Pumpkins and gourds are perfect for fall fun and games with the kids. Find the best pumpkin activities, crafts, printables, and recipes to enjoy with your children this Halloween season. Explore everything from new jack-o'-lantern patterns to the top pumpkin party games to entertain toddlers up to teens this autumn.
Mini Pumpkin Hunt
Just as kids of all ages love hunting for Easter eggs, they will go crazy for seeking hidden mini pumpkins (decorated or plain). Depending on the weather, play the game inside or outdoors. Leaf piles are a great hiding spot! If you don't have any real pumpkins on hand, play this paper version of the game.
Harvest bowling is as quick and simple as setting up skinny, flat-bottom veggies – like squash or ears of corn cut in half – as pins and using pumpkins and other round gourds as balls. This game is best played outdoors. Consider using bales of hay to create the bowling lanes. For another great pumpkin party game, try this printable one: Pin the Stem on the Pumpkin.
Paper Bag Pumpkin
Making paper bag pumpkins is a fun way to use or reuse items you may already have at home, such as paper lunch bags, newspaper, and twist ties or rubber bands. Break out the tempera paint and brushes and put your little artists to work creating a funny or scary pumpkin puss on their paper bag.
Pumpkin and Paint Activities
If carving pumpkins isn't your family's thing, use permanent markers or paint to decorate your gourds with faces that are just as silly or scary. For more fun with paint, cut your small pumpkins in half and let your kids dip and dabble with pumpkin printmaking. Papier-mâché pumpkins are another fun painting activity for your harvest artistes.
Here's an obvious October activity: picking out pumpkins at your local patch. Have your kids scout out gourds of all shapes and sizes. For a fun family or party activity, have children try to guess the weight of your biggest pumpkin and award a small prize for the kid with the closest guess. Also, on the day of your pumpkin hunt, read a book about pumpkins to get in the spirit with your kids.
The tradition of making jack-o'-lanterns dates back centuries. You could probably use some new ideas and tips for pumpkin carving – such as using petroleum jelly to keep the cut-out eyes and mouth from drying out. Don't forget that it's best for adults or older kids to do the cutting and carving. Younger kids can help with designing and drawing on the face and spooning out the seeds.
Tapped out of ideas for your pumpkin's face? Our interactive Jack-O'-Lantern Creator can save the day!
Whether you have crows to scare or just some trick-or-treaters to thrill, you can really bring your jack-o'-lantern to life by using your orange noggin as the head of a scarecrow. Your kids will dig stuffing old clothes to build a scarecrow.
If your kids are too young or just not interested in making jack-o'-lanterns, a pretty alternative is crafting a pumpkin centerpiece. All you need to do is cut a hole in the top of the pumpkin and set a jar or drinking glass inside to fill with water and any flora your kids like, such as wildflowers, cattails, dried wheat, or small branches with colorful leaves. Remember to keep your pumpkin in a cool, dry place when you're not displaying it to help it last longer.
Fun with Pumpkin Seeds
Save those seeds! Although pumpkin seeds are slimy when you first carve them out, they clean up nicely and can be used for lots of activities. You can glue the dried seeds onto paper or your pumpkin in a nice design. You can have a pumpkin seed counting contest. And, of course, you can toast them and make a delicious pumpkin seed snack.
Cool New Ways to Cook with Pumpkin
Pumpkin Mask and Other Printables
If you don't have any real pumpkins on hand or you're looking for a more mess-free pumpkin activity, our pumpkin printables are the way to go! Print out this mask for your child to color or decorate. And have your kids boost their math skills by counting pumpkin seeds and their reading and critical thinking skills with a pumpkin facts worksheet.
Those with a green – or orange – thumb in your family, will love to grow pumpkins. Save the seeds after you carve your pumpkins, clean the pulp off, and lay the seeds out in a single layer to dry out for one month. Then you can either save the seeds in an envelope to plant late next spring or you can plant them indoors and transplant your pumpkin outside when it's warmer again. Pumpkins need at least six hours a day of direct sunlight to grow. Maybe by next fall, you'll have a giant pumpkin!