“He does it with his hands, by experience, first in play and then through work. The hands are the instruments of man’s intelligence.” –Dr. Montessori
Do you carve pumpkins, make your own pumpkin puree, or toast your own pumpkin seeds? With the sensory experience that comes with these activities, I couldn’t wait to have the girls assist. (Before continuing I’d like to clarify that these kind of sensory experiences are not enjoyed by all. I, for one, do not enjoy the feel of pumpkin pulp so I’ve actually been putting this off. Just something to keep in mind if your child isn’t enjoying it or has an aversion.)
To begin our pumpkin fun, I coloured on it for the girls to wash. They are used to washing their little pumpkins, and enjoy it, but I wanted to give them a purpose for washing and a larger surface to get some different movements in. I laid down a clean towel, to help keep the mess, that was sure to follow, manageable.
V cleaned the floor first, because you just need a clean working surface, haha. E grabbed a sponge and went to town. V noticed and started to scrub the pumpkin, as well. They did this for about ten minutes. We then dried the pumpkin, put away the washing materials to prepare for the next activity with our pumpkin.
I cut off the top of the pumpkin and gave them the freedom to dive in (I actually did this prior to washing, but just kept the top on so everything went smooth). I supplied some spoons and a bowl for them to scoop the fibrous strands and seeds into, if they’d like to. But I didn’t show or “introduce” as I often do when it comes to activities. That’s because I just wanted to observe what they would do. When E repeatedly tried to eat the seeds, I then modeled scooping some innards into a bowl. V took to it immediately. Although she preferred to put my seeds back into the pumpkin, because, well, that’s where they belong, haha. E just preferred to taste the strands.
We loved exploring the different sensory factors of the pumpkin first hand. The smell, and taste–haha–of fresh pumpkin, the feel of the fibrous stands and seeds. They felt the roughness of the stem and the smoothness fo the rind. We heard the different sounds that the pumpkin made when we knocked on it; first when it was whole, after scooping out the innards and again after carving it.
Once they were no longer enjoying the inside of the pumpkin as much, I started to scoop the innards out, with them assisting. This was a great learning experience as we went over the parts of the pumpkin; seeds, pulp, fibrous strands, skin, stem, ribs, blossom end, etc. Our pumpkin had a stem, but no vine, tendril, or leaf. For older toddlers using three part cards for pumpkin parts, this is such a great way to get hands on studying to accompany them. “What the hand does the mind remembers.”–Dr. Montessori
Using DIY laminated ten frames and number cards with counting dots you can turn the seeds into a fun math activity that fits your child’s current lessons. The girls have recently become interested in counting, so we took this opportunity to count seeds. We used laminated cards as they were rather simple to make and can easily be wiped off and used for other messy activities. This was another great way for them to work on their fine motor skills while counting.
We then cleaned up our mess, washing the floor and drying it, putting those practical life skills to work.
After our pumpkin was completely scrapped out and cleaned, I let the girls draw on it with the plan to carve out what they drew. E took one side of the pumpkin and V took the other side. V made one mark while E made a few (is is just me, or does it kind of look like the Louis Vuitton logo, haha). Most of their drawings are lines, making it simple to carve. And yes, I absolutely had to get photos of them with their side of the pumpkin, but of course they didn’t turn out, haha.
Has your little one enjoyed pumpkin sensory play?