Halloween approaches and with it comes jack o’lanterns and trick or treating. Carving pumpkins with your kids is a great activity, but you don’t have to let it end there. Since it is pumpkin season, use these interesting gourds for more than decoration. Read on for activities that are fun, gross, and are great for learning.
Make Pumpkin Slime or Oobleck
Kids love slime, it feels great and it makes a fun mess (don’t worry, this mess can be easily cleaned with soapy water). To make fun pumpkin slime, take the guts out of a pumpkin and put the seeds and guts and put them in your blender. Add about a half cup of liquid starch and blend until you reach the consistency you like. If your pumpkin is larger you may need more. Then pour the slime into a bowl or back into the pumpkin. Mix in about a half cup of clear Elmer’s glue and stir. If you want to add to the sensory experience, add a few tablespoons of pumpkin pie spice.
Play outside or on a well lined floor, newspaper works great. The slime will be stretchy and gooey. Give your kiddo a few sturdy toys and they will be busy for hours. To keep the slime, put it in the fridge. It will probably last up to a week.
For Oobleck, it is a similar process. For Oobleck, separate the seeds from the guts. Your kids will probably love this and you can roast them. Put your pumpkin guts in the blender with some cold water. Blend and add water until it is the near consistency of whole milk. Take a large bowl and add about a ½ cup of cornstarch. Poor the pumpkin puree into the bowl, mixing as you go. Test the consistency as you go. Stop adding when you have reached the consistency you want. If you add too much puree, add more cornstarch slowly. Again, this is a messy activity so play outside or in an area you can clean easily.
Grow Pumpkin Plants
To do this activity, cut off the top of a small pumpkin and poke around inside to see what there is. Ask your child about what she sees, and ask her to make predictions about whether or not the seeds can grow. Cover the space between the guts and the top with rich planting soil, or whatever dirt you have on hand. If you are in a warmer climate, place the pumpkin outside in a well-lit area. If you are in a frost zone, put the pumpkin in a bright window or leave outside and take in during frost. Lightly water the soil every day and note if you see anything popping up. Within a few days, you should see new pumpkin plants. As time goes, you should see more and more popping up. If you are in a warm climate, you can plant the seedlings, in a colder climate they will not make it through the winter.
Pumpkin Pie Playdough
This is our only activity that doesn’t use part of the pumpkin. For this one, mix 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of water, ½ cup salt, 2 tbsp. vegetable oil, 1 tbsp. cream of tartar, 2 tbsp. pumpkin pie spice, optional food coloring.
Mix all ingredients in a pot and stir. Heat on medium while stirring constantly. When the mixture thickens, take it off the heat and continue stirring. Once the playdough is firm, put it on wax paper to cool. Add a few drops of baby oil to soften. Add food coloring if you wish.
One warning, because this playdough smells so good, make sure to keep it away from kids who are too young to follow instructions and dogs. It has a high salt content and could make your pup sick.
Rotten Pumpkin Experiment
After Halloween ends most people throw their pumpkins away. If you do not want to participate in this experiment, remember that deer and other animals would think your pumpkin is delicious and birds would eat the seeds. Cut it into chunks and throw them far away from your house, near the edge of your property.
BUT, if you want to do a super gross, interesting, and fun experiment, keep your pumpkin and take notes. This is perfect for older kids. Ask them to keep a journal and check in on the pumpkin every other day. Take notes on what it looks like, if there are any insects, molds, etc. How long can you go? I recommend putting it on a tray or something you don’t care about, it could stain your sidewalk.
Have Pumpkin Fun this Year
After carving a funny or scary face on your pumpkin, the fun is not over. Have lots of pumpkin fun with your kids this year.