Kids at any age can be involved in each stage of the pumpkin-carving process.
Whether you’re in the grocery store or the pumpkin patch, there are usually plenty of pumpkins to choose from. Decide if you want to get one large “family” pumpkin, or one pumpkin for each person to decorate. Then let your kids pick out the pumpkins.
Size makes a difference when it comes to pumpkin carving. Smaller pumpkins have limited surface area for a design but are easier to handle. The bigger the pumpkin, the larger the carving surface, but the more you’ll have to scoop and scrape. No matter what size pumpkin you pick, keep in mind that flaws on a pumpkin’s surface can add detail and character to your design.
Use Good Tools
Pumpkins require scooping if they’re going to be carved. Before getting started, have your kids cover the table with newspaper – better yet, put the table outside on the patio if possible. You’ll need a variety of tools, such as a high-quality flat ice cream scoop or other metal spoons, big bowls for pumpkin guts, knives to carve with (the sharper, the better), nails for poking the design holes, and possibly a pumpkin gutter drill attachment (it’s about $12 and can be used with a cordless drill).
There’s a good chance your kids will not want to finish the job of scooping out the pumpkins, and that’s when I turn to a few simple strategies for help:
- Create competition between siblings by providing one bowl and metal scooper per child. Set a timer for five, ten or fifteen minutes – whoever has the most pumpkin guts in their bowl wins a prize.
- Offer a simple bribe, whether that’s extra time watching TV or playing video games or a piece of candy if they scoop without whining.
- Make a deal – if you scoop the pumpkin, they have to do something else around the house, like cleaning the toilet.
They Design, You Cut
Having children handle sharp knives while carving a pumpkin is probably not the way you want to spend an evening, especially if your children are younger. There are a couple of ways that children can create the design on a pumpkin without having to actually carve anything.
- Have your child draw his/her design directly on the side of the pumpkin using permanent marker. Cut around the parts of their design.
- Have your child draw his/her design on a piece of paper and tape the paper onto the side of the pumpkin. Poke through the paper along the lines of the design, so that you can cut along the dots (poked onto the surface of the pumpkin). Keep the paper nearby for reference while you carve.
Carving pumpkins is a fun family tradition to do with kids of any age.