Pumpkin Carving for All Sensory Types

Pumpkins in the back of an SUV

A few years, I was at a farmer’s market during the last week of October when the gal running the veggie stand said, “All purchases come with a free pumpkin today!” Fantastic! Thanks! I went to chose one out of the pile, when the older gentleman who was also working at the stand called out, “Take ten! Ten pumpkins! They’re all yours – we have more than we know what to do with, and we’ll never get rid of them all by Halloween! Your kids will love carving them!”

What an awesome and generous surprise! My kids would love them, but only two would truly enjoy carving them. The other two would not dream of touching the inside of an ooey gooey pumpkin so making jack-o-lanterns has been a challenge every Halloween. As I loaded up the ten pumpkins in the back of my SUV, I thought about all the non-carving pumpkin projects we liked to do for both my sensory-seeking kids and sensory-avoiding kids:

  1. Drill holes for pumpkin lanterns. I personally love this one and almost always turn my own pumpkins into lanterns even though I don’t mind scooping out the goopy seeds. We use a drill or two fitted with different size drill bits for making a variety of holes all over the pumpkins. They shine the best when the insides are cleaned out, but we learned they do work if the seeds stay in.
  2. Decorate with craft supplies. Yarn for hair. Goofy eyes. Pipe cleaners as glasses or mustaches. Whatever we have on hand has been used to decorate, especially when my children were in preschool and attention spans were just too short for carving jack-o-lanterns, even with the kids who were interested in them. A pumpkin once made a very nice head for a Halloween scarecrow by our front door.
  3. Color with Sharpies. This one usually starts out well at our house with everyone carefully drawing on their pumpkins  – patterns, mazes, and designs – but ends up with someone suggesting a coloring competition to see who can make their pumpkin one solid, single Sharpie color. If people get carried away, we usually re-route to making pumpkin lanterns.
  4. Paint! We’ve used brushes, sponges, and rags. One year, my crew tried drip painting their pumpkins and then splattering them Jackson-Pollock-style. They had a blast, and it was a great outdoor activity. It suits my kids who wants to get messy yet allows my kids who wanted to keep their hands clean to also participate.
  5. Pumpkin target practice with hatchets. This. This is the latest and greatest pumpkin pastime at my house. Axe throwing is all the rage right now. There are even badges in Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts for axe and hatch throwing, so of course my kids wanted to set up a throwing course in the backyard with some pumpkins. Supervision required. A few standard rules. Lots of fun. And the squirrels had a feast when it was all done.

However you decorate or use or carve your pumpkins this fall, I hope you have fun.