Time to Pick a Pumpkin
Many classes start taking field trips this time of year. If they go to a farm, often they will have kids pick their own pumpkins. This may not be possible depending on funding or time restraints. This does not mean that you can’t bring the fun to your students. That’s right, you can make a pumpkin patch in a small space and allow everyone in your sessions to pick their own pumpkin.
Preparing Your Pumpkin Patch
Send home notes to families asking them to send in a small pumpkin to be used during their child’s session. If time is limited, go to a grocery store and look at the small baking pumpkins that are often inexpensive. Craft stores may also have pumpkins which can be used for an activity, or you can make paper pumpkins ahead of time.
Get giant strips of brown construction paper or a plastic tablecloth. Spread this out to look like the ground in a pumpkin patch. Have everyone to place their pumpkins in the patch. Meet back in a circle and ask kids if they have ever gone pumpkin picking. Discuss their memories and what makes the perfect pumpkin. Have everyone close their eyes and put some string vine around the patch near the pumpkins. Take turns going back to the pumpkin patch to pick pumpkins.
Pumpkin Pal Creations
Since pumpkin carving is not something which can be done during sessions, each child will make their own pumpkin creation. The table should be set up with different craft supplies that can be used to decorate their pumpkins. Suggested items include permanent markers, paint, pipe cleaners, sequins, stickers, and anything else that will work on the texture of a pumpkin. If you decide to use paint, it may require two or more days to allow the paint to dry properly.
While creating their pumpkin pals or creatures, kids need to think about who or what it is going to be. What will they name it and why did they select that. These are items which they will need to share with the group once everyone is finished.
Some additional items to think about which are more specific to certain session types are below.
- Physical Therapists – Practice picking pumpkins to work on gross motor skills. Use core strength and take time to bend properly at the knees. Parade around with the pumpkins when all of the creatures are complete. March around, tiptoe on a line, and mix it up.
- Occupational Therapists – If kids are working on fine motor drawing of shapes, encourage them to use markers to draw special faces on their creations with shapes. Make sure that everyone is using the proper grip on the markers and encourage them not to rush.
- Speech Pathologists – After everyone introduces their pumpkin creation, start a group story together. Go around and have each person add a sentence or two. Record the story to reread back at the end. Focus could be directed in whatever topic or sounds that are being studied.
Be sure to check in with families to see if they have traditions which they do with pumpkins or around Halloween. Some may want to share about Dia de los Muertos. Encourage multilingual families to share part of their cultural identities with the group. What other ways would you use pumpkins during your sessions?