I am so excited to be a part of a Halloween Invitation to Play series with the awesome bloggers of Fantastic Fun and Learning, Nothing if Not Intentional, Buggy and Buddy, Twodaloo, and Play Trains! We’ll be bringing invitations to play for the first three Tuesdays in October. For a more in-depth look at what an “invitation to play” is (and to find some more fabulous ideas), check out My Nearest and Dearest’s “25 Fall Invitations to Play Series”.
Frankenstein Pumpkin Invitation to Play
A small pumpkin
Wooden bamboo skewers
Plastic Halloween rings — spiders and bats
How we played
Engineer was SO EXCITED about the materials I set out for him! He immediately grabbed one of the bamboo skewers and started poking at the pumpkin! Then he ran off to the craft closet and pulled out one of our wooden mallets. Before he sat back down, he also decided to grab an ice cream scoop out of a kitchen drawer. Then he set about seeing which worked better to pound the skewers into the pumpkin. His conclusion — he liked the sound the wooden mallet made, but the ice cream scoop pushed the skewers in faster.
Engineer asked me to help steady the pumpkin as he added skewer after skewer to the pumpkin. I wasn’t even authorized to pound a few of them in myself! Personally, I found that screwing them in worked best. Of course, I’m not a 6-year old boy! 🙂
After Engineer determined we had enough bamboo sticks in the top of the pumpkin, he turned it upside down on the table. He was amused at how the pumpkin looked like it was walking on stilts. I’ll be honest, turning it upside down hadn’t even occurred to me! From there, we added more skewers until Engineer was satisfied.
The final step in our process was using the plastic rings to “decorate” the pumpkin. Engineer called it “the Frankenstein monster pumpkin”. The monster really needed some more color, so the rings were added all around the sticks on the top (well, really the bottom) of the pumpkin. I know I’m biased, but I was pretty impressed with how this turned out (and I still am)!
Engineer loved this so much that he played with it multiple days in a row. In fact, we already have plans to play again tomorrow! I’d say that’s success! 🙂
Some skills we touched on
During this Halloween fine motor play, Engineer obviously practiced his fine motor skills. He also incorporated gross motor skills with some of his heavy-handed pounding. Science came up quite a bit, as we discussed all sorts of information about pumpkins. He was especially interested in the “pumpkin juice” that sprouted from the skewer holes. He used many of his senses throughout the invitation — touch, sight, hearing, and smell.
Adapting this activity for younger children
This is really more of an activity for school age children. Engineer is 6 and is in first grade. I know my son, and I was comfortable with him using the sharp bamboo skewers (with my supervision). This isn’t something I’d do with younger children unless I knew they could use the materials safely.
If I did set this up for younger children, I would have the skewers already pounded into the pumpkin. The kids could still use mallets to pound the sticks in further, and they could still add the plastic rings. Alternatively, I would use golf tees. This would allow the children to experience the full range of the invitation in a safer manner.
Be sure to come back next Tuesday for another Halloween invitation to play! In the mean time, check out what these amazing blogs did for this series:
Play Trains’ “October Moon Halloween Train Play”
Nothing if Not Intentional’s “Creepy Crawly Cauldron Play”
Buggy and Buddy’s “Invitation to Create with Beads, Straws, and Pipe Cleaners”
Twodaloo’s “Scrap o’ Lantern”
Fantastic Fun and Learning’s “Play Dough Skeletons”