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Pumpkin Lanterns

Age: 3 to 8+
Time: Under 1 hour
Materials: pumpkins, golf tees, mallet

It's so hard to know how to help young kids take a hands-on approach to carving pumpkins. But, we know that they enjoy and benefit most when they are in the lead. You can certainly hand them a marker to draw, then let you do the cutting. Or, grab some golf tees and a mallet, and let them hammer out their own designs. Plus the lanterns can be gorgeous!

The Guide

For older kids (3 and up) it can be exciting to know that they are working on making a lantern. For younger kids, just diving into the doing is often the perfect hook!

  1. Hollow out a pumpkin or two. Enjoy exploring the seeds as you do—it's own enriching activity.
  2. Then, model how to make a hole by tapping a golf tee into the side of the pumpkin with a mallet. Demonstrate how not to hit your fingers, while you are at it. And, enjoy how satisfying that feels, too!
  3. For kids 3 and up, wonder what kinds of designs they could make in the side of the pumpkin and encourage a little planning.
  4. Hand over golf tees and mallet to kids, and welcome them to make a hole too. Young kiddos may need you to hold the golf tee for them, but they will likely love placing it and tapping it in!
  5. Welcome kids to simply enjoy making holes. They can channel their inner woodpecker to add a little pretend play, too.
  6. When they are finished making holes, put a flashlight or tea light inside the pumpkin and marvel at your beautiful lantern!
  7. Don't have a pumpkin?! Make a lantern by making holes in the side of a cardboard box instead!

Why is this activity great for kids?

It is super satisfying for kids to make an impact or "transform" objects through their own actions, especially when what they are doing can create something beautiful to behold. Manipulating golf tees and mallets in this way also provides marvelous support for fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. Finally, the sensory stimulation kids get from the color, smell, texture, muscle use and head movements involved in this activity is marvelous for their sensory systems.

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