Turning Pumpkins into Jack-o-Lanterns – Quite a Transformation

Turning pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns is quite a transformation. This happens both by adding and by taking away. Learning is like this too.

turning pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns

In order for pumpkins to shine as jack-o-lanterns something needs to happen. There needs to be some action. Carving a pumpkin gives it eyes for seeing, a nose for smelling, and a mouth for talking. In a way, learning for kids also requires action. Some of this learning comes from their own play and exploration. Some of it also comes from the action of parents, families, and caregivers. That is to say, from us.

Every day we can facilitate kids’ interaction with the world. For example, in the morning when helping little ones get dressed, talk about the weather and choosing clothes for the day. Count the buttons on the shirt, name the colors, sing about getting ready, “This is the way we get dressed, we get dressed, we get dressed.” In order to connect with others, we use language. The words we use with and around a child are downloading language into that child’s brain. We add features to the jack-o-lantern and we add to a child’s day with our actions, big adventures and ordinary, everyday experiences.

Carving the pumpkin leaves some empty spaces in the shell. For kids we need to make sure we leave space in the day for them to play. Days get so busy it seems like every moment is full, but kids need time to figure out the world in their own way. We might have to get creative in order to do this, like letting them have a drawer in the kitchen with things they can touch and use when we’re busy making a meal. Bring home a big cardboard box. It isn’t empty, it’s full of possibilities.jack-o-lanterns

We also put a candle or light inside. Now, the jack-o-lantern can shine. Turning pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns might be your activity for the day. Some people use turnips and recently, there have been photos and instructions for pineapple lanterns. Whatever we use, maybe our job as parents and caregivers is to put a light inside kids so they can shine too?

Carve a Pumpkin Fairy House (or Superhero Fort)

Have you heard of a pumpkin fairy house before? I hadn’t until recently, but a fairy house is a delightful change from a jack-o-lantern. That’s thinking outside the box, or rather, inside the pumpkin, and encourages creativity and imagination. Jack-o-lanterns do not need to be a face, they can be anything kids can imagine.

pumpkin-fairy-houseA pumpkin fairy house starts the same way as a jack-o-lantern. First, cut off the top of the pumpkin and then scoop out the inside seeds and strings. (You can save the seeds to roast with a little salt for a tasty Halloween treat or to plant next year.) Adults need to cut a big window out of the pumpkin. Of course, the bigger the pumpkin, the bigger the window and fairy house. Ours wasn’t very large so I cut the window down low. After popping out the window, I wish that I had carved the top of it a little closer to the edge of the circle lid and not left quite such a wide space. Now, comes the fun part, making the house.

pumpkin-fairy-houseIf the weather is not pouring rain like it was for us, kids can go outside and find some colorful leaves or moss to put down for the fairy floor. We looked thru our recycling and craft boxes to find some bits of fabric and handfuls of fluffy cotton balls. Pine cones and tiny berries would be other nature treasures. Fairies like sparkly things so next came some gold-colored plastic necklaces. Water bottle caps turned over made fairy chairs. Kids can use their imaginations to find things that they think fairies would like and a small tea light will light up the inside.

Not all children are particularly interested in fairies, but most kids have small plastic or wood figurines in their toy box. A pumpkin could also be a house for LEGO people, or superheros, or small animals. It could be a barn or a secret hideout just as easily as a fairy house. What kind of pumpkin house would your child like to make?