Exploring with Pumpkins
Children love pumpkins during the autumn months. The fun shape is used all the time for decorating and crafts. Pumpkins as Jack-o-lanterns are prominent for Halloween, but they also show up for Thanksgiving feasts. October is a great time to utilize them within speech therapy sessions. Always think about your long term and short term goals with each child when planning activities to make the most of your time together.
Sensory Seeking with Speech
Kids love to get messy and feel new things. Many times families with younger children paint their pumpkins, rather than carve them. Thanks to this, children may not have experienced the joys of “pumpkin guts” on their own. Utilizing the senses can encourage children to practice tricky words and sounds. Bring in a large container with the insides of a pumpkin for kids to explore. Have them think of how it feels, looks, and reacts as they touch it. Is this something they like or do not enjoy? Discuss these and brainstorm on words for all of the different sensations.
If this is too messy for your time frame, you can create your own inside of a pumpkin. Have a container for the children to look at and talk about their observations without really using it as a sensory exercise. Have children trace and cut out two pumpkin shapes. Inside the bottom pumpkin, have them glue some pumpkin seeds that you have prepared for the project ahead of time. Use some yellow yarn as the stringy parts around the pumpkin seeds. Let this dry and then staple the two parts together and add on construction paper stem and leaf on the outside. You can write “What’s inside” on the front of the pumpkin and it can go home to prompt more conversations from what they learned.
If you have the set up and time, think about decorating some of the smaller pie pumpkins with children to bring home. Painting them is great to encourage fine motor practice, while you talk about color choices, face shapes, and other decorations, but it is not always practical. Permanent markers work well with designing and coloring faces. This is a great way to let their imaginations go and to let chat about how they see their masterpiece. Think about using foam stickers, sequins, and other beads to quickly embellish their work. If real pumpkins are not a possibility, make a giant pumpkin out of a heavier paper and do the same concept with that for the children to bring home as a fall decoration. With younger children focus on shapes, colors, letter sounds, and other items that are within their goals.
Remember to check in with families at home to see how they celebrate the holidays during this season. Be sensitive to their beliefs and if needed, do generic fall activities so you so not upset anyone. It is also a great time to see if any of your students have customs related to Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, which is celebrated at the end of October and start of November. Check with classroom teachers to see what they are doing so you can supplement as well. As the big winter holiday season approaches, also inquire with families about these events so you can be prepared to incorporate part of their customs into your lessons.