It’s fall and Halloween season, which means: PUMPKINS!!! There are so many great pumpkin-themed activities you can do. They’re easy to find, cheap, replaceable, and versatile. I usually try to incorporate reading with my activities as it’s a good way of introducing a theme or topic and builds literacy skills. There are some great fall and pumpkin books out there, but I also love a great poem or song. Here are three fun pumpkin poems you can read and teach your children along with some activities to do. You can do one a day or even focus on one poem over a week and see what kinds of ideas your child has to keep the play going! These activities are appropriate for ages 2 and up. Happy pumpkin-ing!
Five Little Pumpkins Sitting On a Gate
Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate,
The first one said “oh my its getting late,”
The second one said “there’s a chill in the air,”
The third one said “but we don’t care,”
The fourth one said “we’re ready for some fun,”
The fifth one said “lets run, run, run,”
So woo went the wind, and out went the lights,
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.
- Decorate the pumpkins!
Help your child decorate 5 little pumpkins (the teeny pumpkins, not the pie pumpkins). There are sticker kits you can use, you can paint them, or you can even use colored Sharpie markers to decorate them. If you do use the markers, make sure the pumpkin is really really dry otherwise even permanent markers will just smear. You can get creative and staple accessories to the pumpkins; hats, eye patch, ears, glitter, confetti, etc.
- Make a gate!
Make a gate by using a simple card board box. Something like a diaper box works well. Sometimes you have to get creative and use whatever you can find, like a large plastic bin or Tupperware. Make a ramp out of thick cardboard or a lid or cutting board and place it on the side of the box. This will be used for the pumpkins to “roll out of sight.” Then, place your pumpkins on the gate (your box or bin).
- Act out the poem!
Read the poem a couple times so you get used to the text and rhythm. If you wanted, there are books with the poem that you can find or check out at the library. Pete the Cat: Five Little Pumpkins by James Dean is fantastic. Help your child act out the poem, pointing to the first pumpkin, the second, the third, etc. At the end, roll the pumpkins down your ramp.
Emphasizing 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc, is teaching ordinal numbers. Reading the poem over again will help teach rhyme as well. After some repetition, your child will be able to recite the rhyming words. You can take turns saying each alternating line or have your child fill in the rhyming word.
Jack O’ Happy
This is Jack-O happy.
This is Jack-O sad.
Now you see him sleepy.
Now you see him mad.
This is Jack in small pieces,
But in a pie, he’s best of all!
- Read the poem!
Read the poem through. Talk about what it means to be happy, sad, sleepy, and mad. Extend the conversation by asking:
When did you feel that way?
What happened to make you feel that way?
What do you do to make yourself feel better when you feel that way?
- Make a Jack O’Happy book!
Cut out 5 pumpkins from construction paper big enough to cover one of the feeling words. Cut out different shapes from black construction paper to make a happy, sad, sleepy, and mad face. Help your child create their own happy, sad, sleepy, and mad jack o lantern. Next, you’re going to make a book! Help your child paste each of the pumpkins on a separate sheet of paper or card stock. For the pumpkin in “pieces small,” if your child is old enough, help them cut the last blank pumpkin into pieces and glue them on a page. For the last page, print out or draw a picture of a pie. Attach the pages together with a stapler or punch holes and tie with yarn. Your child now has their very own homemade book!
- Make a pumpkin pie!
If you want to get really fun and crazy, make a pumpkin pie from scratch! Get a pie pumpkin and let your kid go wild scooping out the seeds. Cut it up, steam the pieces, puree, and follow your favorite pumpkin pie recipe. Kids will love it! Here is a twist and kid friendly recipe to try (substitute the canned pumpkin with the fresh pumpkin puree you just made).
I see pumpkins large,
I see pumpkins small.
I see pumpkins short,
I see pumpkins tall.
I see pumpkins orange,
I see pumpkins green.
Just what we need
For fall and Halloween!
Using green and orange construction paper, cut out a bunch of pumpkins of varying sizes; large, small, short, tall. Read through the poem and point out the pumpkins. Let your kids play with the pumpkin cut outs. Help them order the pumpkins by size. Help them sort the pumpkins; by color, by size or by both color and size. Afterwards, you can have them make a pumpkin patch by gluing them on a large piece of poster board. When you read the poem again, have your kids point to the different sized pumpkins. And just like that, you’ve taught them math by talking about object size and opposites!