As pumpkin play reaches fever pitch, have you got your Halloween game on this half term? In these pandemic times the pumpkin hunts may be cancelled but there is still plenty of fun to be had on October 31st.
With families encouraged to spot pumpkins and Halloween crafts hung in windows in place of the usual trick or treating, we've worked with a couple of our favourite playful partners to bring you some creative activities which will keep the whole family entertained and get your neighbourhood feeling suitably spooky!
Paint a Pumpkin
In the past it has been all about carving but now there are so many simple ways to inspire children with pumpkin decorating, as Michelle from Print Play Learn shares with us. Painting is a super quick way to customise your pumpkin (and the best thing is the pumpkin keeps for longer so you can use it to make our delicious recipe from Mummy's Little Chef below!)
We mostly get children to paint onto a flat surface so having something 3D to paint on is a great learning experience. The choice of paint is yours - paint samples work really well (not gloss) or you could choose acrylic paint, paint sticks, chalk paint or blackboard paint which you can then decorate with chalk...the brighter the better!
There are several ways to try painting, you could choose one base colour and paint the entire pumpkin then add detail using a contrasting paint colour. Or you may want to give a selection of colours and let children decorate how they like. Think about the colour paint choices so it doesn't end up brown on the orange backdrop. For example, use neon colours, only give three colours at a time, and try to avoid red, blue and yellow together.
For more decoration you could add a bit of sparkle with PVA glue and biodegradable glitter. Just spread the glue where you would like it on the pumpkin, drips, circles, face shape or just randomly.
Want to keep it super simple?
- Add huge goggly eyes to the pumpkin - you can buy these as stickers or cut out two big circles of white paper, two smaller circles of black paper, maybe team the eyes with a paper moustache
- Use stickers - they are a great way to develop fine motor skills in children as well as adding decorations, use stars, circles, shapes, or anything!
- Sticky foam - children can cut out a pumpkin face or design there own shapes to stick on
- Get children to put their hands in the paint and create handprints on the pumpkins
- Make masks for the pumpkin - think super hero or witch hat, make your pumpkin into a monster, add eyes
Spooky Play Dough
Here's a quick no-cook play dough recipe from Michelle at Print Play Learn, which you can use at home with your children. So two activities in one - a win, win!
- 1 cup free flour
- 1cup of warm water
- 1/2 cup of salt
- 1tbs of oil
- 2 tsp of creme
- of tartar
- Bowl + spoon for mixing
- Put the dry ingredients into a bowl
- Add colour using icing colour this gives a super deep colour - we love using black, purple or orange.
Now this is super simple, pop all the dry ingredients into a bowl, mix together then carefully mix the icing colour with the warm water (just be careful) and pour into the bowl. Mix, mix, mix! If it's a little dry add a tiny bit of water.
So you've made the play dough, now what can you do with it?
If you want a simple way to play then use some play dough mats. There are loads of ideas on Pinterest as well as the printables I have to support you. They are a quick print way to get children playing. Try encouraging your minis to make Halloween items, count their creations, and make their own spooky play dough picture.
Other ways to use play dough
Let your minis lead - give them a bowl of loose parts (these are different bits they can use to create for example; feathers, beads, straws, foam shapes, buttons, pipe cleaners), any Halloween prompts such as toy spiders, web, as well as play dough tools - remember you don't have to buy anything special just check your kitchen cupboards for utensils, spoons, forks, whisks.
With this little kit of play dough bits, you might want to make bats, 3D pumpkins, decorating, making spiders, making witches and more!
Remember to support children with crafts especially when using scissors!
Pumpkin Mac & Cheese
- 200g pumpkin, cut into small cubes
- 300g short pasta, like penne
- 2 tbs unsalted butter
- 100g grated cheddar
- 40g grated parmesan
- Milk to taste, to make the mash smooth
- Salt and pepper to taste
First preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Put the pumpkin with a little olive oil and seasoning on a roasting tin and roast for about 30 mins, with occasional stirring.
While it's roasting, cook the pasta in a cauldron filled with plenty of salted boiling water. Make sure you cook the pasta a minute under the instructed cooking time.
Once the pumpkin is ready, mash it with a fork and add half of the cheddar and season to taste. You can add milk to make the mash smoother.
Drain the pasta once it's ready and put in a bowl, add the mashed mixture and mix together.
Place everything in a roasting tin and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese has begun to brown.
2-4 year olds can...
- Add the pre-chopped and oiled pumpkin to the roasting tin
- Mash the pumpkin with a fork (wait until it has cooled down)
- Add the pre-measured grated cheese and milk
- Mix together with a fork
- Place in the roasting tin
- Sprinkle the remaining cheese
5-7 year olds can also...
- Measure the ingredients: if using a scale, make sure you write the numbers big and clear for them to copy on the scale. If using a measuring jug, I usually put some paper tape to highlight where to stop.
- Chop the pre-pealed and de-seeded pumpkin (under adult supervision and with an appropriate knife).
- Add the pumpkin to a roasting tin and top with the olive oil.
7+ year olds can also...
- Peel, de-seed and chop the pumpkin.
- Set timer and occasional turn the pumpkin (under adult supervision).
To try out some of Marta's other recipes with your minis, check out her Family Recipe Box available now in the store. You can also try your hand at making some spooky stickers with our Halloween printable download and Sticker Maker Kit.