13 Pumpkin Play Activities

It’s Pumpkin Season! We counted down to Halloween with #13DaysOfPumpkinPlay, shared by NINPA members. Not a member yet? Follow this link to sign up – registration is free and easy.

1. Prickly Pumpkins

Pumpkins + mallets + golf tees = prickly pumpkins! While having fun, we are also navigating tool use, exploring pumpkin parts, and working our fine motor skills and hand eye coordination. – Molly, Wildwood Nature Preschool/Park Ridge Park District

2. Pumpkin Geoboards

Art, math, shapes, physics, fine motor… but most importantly, FUN! – Megan, Little Trees Early Learning Program at The Morton Arboretum

3. Pumpkin Playdough

Warm pumpkin play dough on a chilly fall morning? Yes, please!

We’re following recipes, seeing how mixing ingredients together makes them change, and using our big strong muscles to mix that dough. Then add some loose parts for a funny pumpkin face – or anything else our hearts desire! – Megan, Little Trees Early Learning Program at The Morton Arboretum

4. Pumpkin Loose Parts

Add pumpkins as loose parts in your classroom, for exploring and painting, as well as taking along when going outdoors. “Heavy” lifting of pumpkins invites children to be strong and placement and stacking challenges them to explore with balance and gravity. – Marilyn, Morton College

5. Pumpkin Patch Dramatic Play

Pumpkins and gourds and a cash register to ring up their “purchases”. No cash register? An old corded phone set or a calculator can work in a pinch.

Have you had a pumpkin patch in your program? What did your students use as currency? Did they use baskets or shopping carts or grocery bags to carry away their purchases? – Megan, Little Trees Early Learning Program at The Morton Arboretum

6. Pumpkin Sink or Float

Do Pumpkins Sink or Float? We tested our pumpkins and gourds in our pond, but we’ve brought this activity inside in the past when it was a bit chillier. (And sometimes you have to test to see if pumpkin pieces float just as well in the middle of the pond as they do on the side – which is when we bust out the water balloon slingshots!)

Have you explored sink and float with pumpkins in your classroom? What have your students noticed? Do big pumpkins float the same way little pumpkins do? Have any pumpkins ever sunk in your experiments? – Kristen, Wildwood Nature Center, Park Ridge Park District

7. Rolling Pumpkins

Time to roll those pumpkins down the hill! Race and chase (and even roll) after them! – Jen, Wildwood Nature Center, Park Ridge Park District

8. Gutter Gourds

We rolled big on the hill, now it’s time to roll small on the gutters. How do gourds roll best? Are any gourds too big to fit? We take turns running after our gourds or we gather a bunch at the top of our ramp and send them down as fast as we can! When gutters are unavailable, our gourds or pumpkins are too big, or when we have a lot of kids exploring gravity at the same time, we set up a cardboard ramp or a table with one side collapsed as a makeshift ramp instead. – Cara, Wildwood Nature Center, Park Ridge Park District

9. Pumpkin Tools

We play with scoops, carvers, hand drills, and more. How do you use pumpkin tools in your classroom?

10. Pumpkin Guts Exploration

After carving a LOT of pumpkins, we have lots of guts leftover! Perfect for a gut sensory bin for lots of scooping and seeds.

11. Pumpkin Puzzles

Explore shapes and make matches (and feed seeds through the holes for some fine motor fun too!) – Karly, Wildwood Nature Preschool/Park Ridge Park District

12. Pumpkin Soup

We use tools from our mud kitchen and water to make “pumpkin soup” and “pumpkin tea” [not pictured: the indoor configurations of this activity and the many towels that are needed]. Sometimes we add cornstarch to make pumpkin oobleck! – Cara, Wildwood Nature Center/Park Ridge Park District

13. Plant Pumpkin Seeds

Can’t get enough of pumpkin play? It’s time to bury those seeds and wait for the pumpkins and gourds to grow again next year!

What do you do with your leftover pumpkin parts?

Thank you to all the NINPA members who sent in pictures and contributed great ideas for our Pumpkin Play week. There are so many more great ideas to share. What are your favorites?