Thursday, November 1, 2018

Pumpkin Patch Playtime!

It's November 1st, and allow me to be the first to wish you a Happy Buy Your Purim Costumes and Dress-up Clothes at 50% Off Day! We don't happen to celebrate Halloween, but Autumn just isn't Autumn without pumpkins here. We [I] even [toiled and slaved and cursed and cried] in the garden to grown our own mini pumpkin and gourd. Yes. Only one. Of each. Costing me roughly a total of $54 when all was said and done, but worth every penny. I think. We also purchased some mini pumpkins and gourds, painted white pumpkins with acrylic paints, picked our own pumpkins at S's school field trip and needed an indoor way to have some playful and active fun yesterday while handing out [and eating] candy.
Introducing Pumpkin Patch Playtime! Whether you're looking to give those pumpkins one last hurrah today or trying to burn off some of the post-Halloween calories and energy, these simple activities are sure to please and simple to set up and execute at home or in the classroom.

Our Pumpkin Patch hosted a small selection of gross motor and dramatic play activities. You could include them all, add your own, or choose your favorites. You could do this outside if your weather permits, but it works just as well indoors given enough space.

The boys were invited as they came downstairs from their nap to take a hayride to the Pumpkin Patch. I used a small riding toy, but you can also use a cardboard box, bike/tricycle, scooter, skates or your own two feet! I used masking tape to make a path toward the pumpkin patch that would later double as our corn maze. If you have carpeting and are worried about tape, carpet safe tape options are available. I've never had a problem with masking tape as along as you remove it the same day. You can implement labels and sentence strips if you want to support a print rich environment.

Once they arrived at the Pumpkin Patch, the boys were greeted by the sight of artificial leaves strewn about the rug (you can also cut your own from paper or use the real thing outside). A couple of child sized rakes and a recycled brown paper bag were at the ready for raking leaves. If you have reservations about using rakes indoors, you could probably substitute in child sized brooms or children could use their hands or even tongs or tweezers to pick up leaves. If you have a larger group, this would be a really fun activity to do with a parachute and to use the leaves on the parachute to toss into the air before having the children rake and collect them.

The Pumpkin Patch itself was set up using artificial floral/foliage garlands I bought from the Dollar Tree earlier this year to use in our play sukkah as vines and our collection of pumpkins and gourds starring as themselves. You could use artificial/toy pumpkins, or even make your own by painting and stuffing brown paper lunch bags (as I did for our basketball game). At the Pumpkin Patch, the boys could "pick" pumpkins and gourds, fill up their shopping cart and bring them to The Pumpkin Patch Store (their kitchen set and cash register) to pay. You can get as detailed as you want here and make price tags, signs, etc. You can also keep it simple (as we did) and just go with the flow. S had the idea to use the pumpkins in the kitchen and make pumpkin cakes, pies and something he called "pumpkin juice" that I'm willing to try at least once to find out if I like it! He also wanted to use some brown paper shopping bags for carrying pumpkins and gourds, which became its own lesson in measurement, weight and structural integrity...

Both of the boys loved Pumpkin Basketball. S was quite inspired to try a real pumpkin in the game, but since we were inside, I put a damper on that one. Instead, I prepped some simple brown paper lunch bag pumpkin basketballs. I colored the bags with orange and green marker, stuffed them with tissue paper and taped them shut before smooshing them into a round shape. Alternatively, you could use actual balls and permanent markers to make them look like pumpkins. Everyone (yes, me, too) took turns having three tosses to try and make a basket.

These activities are meant to get everyone up and moving and active. When excitement and festivity are in the air (even and especially the day after), movement is a necessity. If you're needing a less active and quieter option or station, these DIY peg board geo-pumpkins are the way to go. They still encourage active engagement of muscles, strength and energy, but they are a bit more stationary in nature. This has been a favorite activity for S the last few years now, and this year Y got in on the fun as well. They hammered golf tees into a couple of our mini pumpkins last week for Table Time one morning. Yesterday, I set out the trays of rubber-bands and our pumpkin geo-boards. Y was able to loosely drape larger rubber bands over the pegs and S was able to make intricate shapes and designs.

We will likely give these gourds and pumpkins one last hurrah here as we explore the inside and maybe even do a little baking per S's request. But honestly, I'm pumpkin-spiced out and ready for what's next...Chanukah!

If you're gearing up for Chanukah as well and looking for a playful and educational way to bring some early math and literacy skills into your home or classroom, check out my Chanukah Counting Soup game on TeachersPayTeachers. It's a fabulous way to bring fun, festivity and a little bit of learning into your home or classroom this season.

And until then...happy playing!

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