Pumpkins are all over the place in October. Not only can you get everything in pumpkin flavor, but they are part of the seasonal decorations for Halloween and beyond. These fall favorites are a great item to integrate into speech and language sessions. You can create your own projects using pumpkins to send home, and they can also be utilized for sensory fun and exploration. When planning to incorporate pumpkins into lessons, work on different ways to hone in on each child’s individual goals for each activity.
Small pie pumpkins are the most versatile size to use in classrooms. These pumpkins are easy to find at stores and relatively inexpensive. They also work well to decorate with pumpkin faces. Rather than using paint, which takes time to dry, give kids a variety of permanent markers that will work on the surface of the pumpkins. Give kids time to plan out their pumpkin “personalities.” Have a variety of add-on decorations for them to use. Foam pieces, sequins, stickers, and beads are can be attached to the pumpkins with a little glue. These will allow each child to personalize their own pumpkin. While everyone works, chat about their color choices. What shapes did they use for the eyes, and why did they select that shape? This conversational piece is great practice for kids during speech. When all of the pumpkins are finished, take time to go around the group and introduce each creation. Then talk about similarities and differences with the pumpkins.
A sensory tie in with pumpkins is to share the fun of pumpkin guts. Many kids have never experienced this before and will enjoy it. If you have time, you can bring in a larger pumpkin and carve into it. Kids can experience the scent of the pumpkin as it is opened. With the help of their senses, they will be able to use different words to express what they think of the pumpkin guts. Have several large containers available to spoon the contents of the pumpkin into. Allow the kids to explore how the pulp inside adds to the gooey mess. Let everyone take turns expressing how they think it feels and looks to them. What did they think about touching it and why? Come up with different words that express all of the sensations experienced during the activity. If this is too messy for your time frame, make sensory bags of pumpkin guts for each child to experience. They can put one hand inside the bag and share their thoughts. Since the pumpkins will already be carved, no danger with carving tools around kids will be involved.
Take time to check in with families to add to your pumpkin and fall-themed activities. Ask them about their autumn holiday customs. See if anyone has items to share that are related to Dia de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, which is celebrated at the beginning of November. Be sensitive to all beliefs, and have generic fall options ready so nobody feels left out or hurt.
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