While exploring pumpkins with young children, you can’t miss the opportunity to examine the insides of these fascinating gourds as well as the outsides! Cut open a pumpkin and place it in your sensory table with scoops, spoons, tweezers, and magnifiers. Provide cups as well, for collecting the seeds. You can air dry them and use them to grow pumpkins next year! (Read more about saving seeds here. Pumpkins are really quite easy to grow if you have the space. Saving and reusing seeds also ties in very nicely with the book, Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington.)
If you want to be able to use the pumpkin as a Jack-o-lantern, just cut a large hole at the top, let the children dig and explore, and then complete the job later. Or, for some fun contrast, cut the pumpkin into sections (like the photo above) and use several different types of pumpkins and colorful gourds so that the children can discuss how the various types are both different and similar on the outsides and insides. It is also fun to compare the uncooked pumpkin texture to the cooked pumpkin texture with another sample in your sensory table, or as you make something, like Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread!
This exploration builds sensory and science skills as well as language and small motor skills as the children manipulate the gourd samples and the basic tools (scoops, tweezers, magnifiers), and discuss the characteristics of the samples (slimy, stringy, hard, smooth, etc.).
For more favorite fall activities, click here!
Top photo by rejoman.