By Florence B.
It’s October, and we’ve got a great curriculum set up to celebrate the month that’s all about Autumn fun! We’ll be covering Fall (because who can’t help but fall for Fall with all the fun it brings?!), pumpkins, corn, and feelings and emotions. You’ll see our Autumn Home Center set up in the dramatic play area with costumes making an appearance the last week in October (because we can’t have October without some Halloween and make-believe fun!)!
Let’s rewind a bit and focus on that second bit of awesomeness I mentioned in the curriculum--pumpkins! Our first excursion is coming up in mid-October! Wait a sec--what’s an excursion? Well it’s one of the fun things that BFCP provides so that members and their children can explore the many fantastic places that the greater Seattle area has to offer! These mini-adventures allow us to learn about our community while strengthening our own community at school, because who doesn’t like to go and learn about new things and visit places with friends?
For those of you not familiar with the classes BFCP has to offer, the parent & baby and toddler classes both go on two excursions each year, the 2/3 class goes on three, the 3/4 class goes on six, and the ever adventurous Pre-K class goes on six to eight a year! For those of you alumni, I’m sure this is one of your favorite things to do in the program; and for those of us new folk, I’m sure it’ll end up being one of our favorites, too!
Well, pumpkins...excursions; I guess it can’t be too hard to guess where the first excursion will take us! We’re heading to a pumpkin farm! Check your class calendar for the date and time for when your specific class is going; each class will be going during their respective class time! For those in the parent & baby class, after we enjoy a picnic lunch at Meadowdale Park, we’ll head to the Fairbanks Animal Farm and Pumpkin Patch! We’ll be able to check out the farm animals as well as take the Hidden Bear Trail to visit Pumpkin Land to find our perfect Fall favorite pumpkin (or gourd if that’s your fancy--they’ll have plenty of those, too)! For the rest of the classes, we’ll head out to the The Farm at Swan’s Trail. We’ll explore some of their 50-acre pumpkin patch, go on wagon hay rides, and check out their Fall Festival Fun event, which includes a fantastic play area as well as farm animals!
Here are some handy tips for visiting any kind of pumpkin farm:
1) Have your camera ready at all times, because there’s a good chance your kids will have a blast! You may find your kids pointing at little pumpkins, big pumpkins, different colored pumpkins, and pumpkins that you cannot discern why your kid is pointing at them. BUT, they will have a huge smile on their face so you won’t want to miss that!
2) Get dressed for mess! Let’s face it; pumpkins don’t grow in nice bins like the grocery store will have us believe. If it’s raining or has rained during any of the days before, there will likely be mud, and no matter your best efforts, that mud will get on you. If you have rain boots, wear them! Depending on the type of pumpkin patch, rain boots may or may not work for your little one. Some places have lots of thick vines on the ground that might be hard to maneuver in the larger rainboot footwear. Be prepared for little feet slipping out of boots, so pack extra socks or even an extra pair of sneakers!
3) Bring large trash bags and a large cardboard box (or something that can stop that round, muddy vegetable from making your trunk look like a mud fight happened and your trunk lost) if you plan on bringing a pumpkin home (and really, who wouldn’t want to take a pumpkin home?). Oh… this we learned the hard way. Once you picked out that once-in-a-lifetime specimen of all-that-is-great-in-the-world-of-pumpkins (at least according to your child), you will have to figure out a way to get said pumpkin home, regardless of how muddy it is and the fact that you just cleaned out your trunk. With. A. Vacuum.
4) If you are terrible at judging size, bring a string to help you take measurements out in the field. Many pumpkin farms have you ‘size’ your pumpkin yourself, meaning they have example pumpkins ordered by size and price so that you can compare the one(s) you find against theirs and figure out how much you owe. If you don’t want a surprise when you go to check out, take a measurement of the pumpkin in your budget beforehand!
5) Bring a bag! If you’re planning on getting many little pumpkins, consider bringing a very sturdy bag, kind of like those heavier duty reusable shopping bags. While most pumpkin patches have wheelbarrows or wagons to help you lug around your pumpkins, they’re usually limited and are best used when going from the pumpkin patch to your car (trying to maneuver a wheelbarrow in a pumpkin patch is not the easiest thing to do). With the bag, you can place it down when needed (even as a ‘this-is-taken’ sign when placed next to bigger pumpkins you may set aside) and follow your kiddo as they find another amazingly awesome gourd that you must take home!
Alright! So you’ve made it home and you have your pumpkin(s)! Now what? Well, now you can have even more fun! The fun doesn’t end when you leave the excursion! Don’t forget to share what you and your kiddos ended up doing by posting pics in your class Facebook pages! AND if you’re feeling extra proud of your creation, share with the main BFCP Facebook page!
If your infant, toddler, or preschooler doesn’t quite have the dexterity or skill to carve a pumpkin yet, (yes, let’s says it’s because the kids can’t carve, not us) don’t worry; I’ve got some ideas for decorating those pumpkins right here for you!
1) Wait a sec--why do anything at all?! You have an awesome pumpkin (or pumpkins!) that you just spent time picking out with your kiddo. Let that veggie shine in all its natural glory as fall decoration at its best! By the way, pumpkins can last quite a while as long as the skin is solid but degrade rapidly once you carve or break the skin, so keep that in mind if you want your pumpkin greeting your Halloween visitors!
2) Stickers! Who doesn’t love stickers? ‘Tis the season for Halloween stickers so pick some up and have your kiddo go wild! Smaller stickers work better depending on pumpkin curve, so keep that in mind! You can also find some “googly eye” stickers to bring your pumpkin to life! If you’re planning on showing your new work of adhesive art outside, plastic-based or foam stickers work great so they won’t get ruined by moisture like the paper ones!
3) Markers! If you’re not quite at the point of handing your kiddo a Sharpie and hoping for the best, go with good old washable markers! When your kiddo is done making their masterpiece, you can trace over the art with permanent markers to make their design ‘pop’! OR...spray with a sealant and call it a day!
4) Paint! Grab a smock, put on some old clothes, and take the acrylic paints off the highest shelf you have, because painting a pumpkin is a great way to let your little budding artist shine! For a 3D effect, look no further than puffy paint for a one-step colored 3D effect or tacky glue as your 3D design primer before painting.
5) Paint...WITH glue and glitter! If you’re brave and entrusted with the mightiest of vacuums, grab some clear-dry glue, food dye (or watercolor), and bottles of glitter (also sequins, bits of tissue paper...you get the idea!). Water down the glue a bit (not too much!) to make it easier to paint (or use as is), and then sprinkle your glitter after painting. Add the dyes to the glue if you want more color! If you use washable glue or tissue paper, make sure to use a sealant before placing outside! Tip: if it looks like a fairy stopped by and left an explosion of pixie dust at your house, you can use contact paper, lint removers, or plain tape to pick up strays that your vacuum rejects!
6) Crayon drip! So you know all those broken crayons that can’t be used for coloring any more (at least according to your child) or that stash of freebie crayons you keep getting from restaurants in the same three colors? Never fear, those crayons are the stars of this idea! Arm yourself with some glue, a hair dryer, and aforementioned crayons, and you’ve got yourself the makings of a fun and unique way to decorate! Glue (tacky glue is great) your peeled crayon bits at the top of the pumpkin, let the hair dryer melt them, and then have gravity do the rest! You can keep adding more layers, so keep going!
7) Carve! Yes, I have to include this Halloween staple even though this is a “list of ideas if you don’t want to carve your pumpkin” (details, meh)! As you lament your artistic ability, remember it’s all about the journey for you and your kiddo, not the destination. No matter the age, taking out the pumpkin innards is a messy blast! Younger kids can enjoy the sensory adventure as they investigate the pumpkin seeds and pulp. Try to pick out the seeds and put them in a cup, use a spoon to mix, smear the pulp around--there’s so for these investigators to do! Once you pick out a design for your pumpkin, your kiddo can help transfer it over. You can use contact paper to draw directly on the pumpkin and have your kiddo poke or trace the lines of your design onto the pumpkin. They just need to bruise the skin a little for you to see the design when you take the contact paper off. Any pieces you remove from the pumpkin as you carve goes straight to your kids to explore. Cut a hole through and remove a big chunk; investigate the difference between the tough pumpkin skin, the soft inner flesh, and the slimy pulp. Chip away at the skin for your design and show the color differences between skin and pumpkin flesh. When you’re done and drop a light inside, show the differences with the carved sections versus the skin. What about the areas that were carved deeper? What about the hole you cut through?
Well, there you have it for this week’s post about pumpkins! Sound off in the comments if you have any tips or ideas about pumpkins to share! If you have feedback or ideas you’d like to see featured in future blog articles, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.