Carve Pumpkins with Your Kids

It’s pumpkin time. Pumpkin time means carving those big orange fruits too. Without delay, get your little darlings together and carve a pumpkin. Here’s how to get started.

Brief History of Pumpkin Carving

Originally Halloween wasn’t Halloween. It was probably a holiday (officially called Samhain, pronounced sow-wan) meant to celebrate deceased ancestors of ancient Europe. It was believed that this time, the doorway between the spirit world and this world opened. Many believed some deceased ancestors probably slipped over to the living side. People carved gourds and turnips to welcome the spirits of loved ones while keeping away evil ones.

When the Europeans finally came to the Americas, they found the native pumpkins were easier to carve than turnips and gourds. Thus, the modern day Jack o’ Lanterns were born.

Pumpkin Selection

Although most grocery stores have pumpkins for purchase, a pick your own pumpkin patch makes pumpkin picking a fun activity for the kids to look forward to. Pumpkins may also be available at greenhouses and local farmers’ markets too.

Select pumpkins that you and the kids can handle. Most pumpkins available are between ten and twelve pounds are just the right size for carving. Kids can select their own pumpkins but teach them the right ways of selecting a pumpkin. Make sure the pumpkin doesn’t have any discolored spots or soft spots. This suggests the pumpkin is too ripe or starting to rot. No visible mold or other signs of disease should be on the pumpkin either.

Pumpkin Carving Tools

The simplest, easiest pumpkin carving tool is a good shark knife. The pumpkin carving tools on the market will do but you can do most things with a knife. Still, if the kids insist on buying the latest pumpkin carving tools, stick with a simple kit. The kids usually have a few carving tools and a scoop for scooping out the excess pulp and seeds.

Carve the Pumpkin

First start by cutting around the stem to get into the pumpkin insides. An adult should always supervise if the kids are doing this cutting. The best way is to have an adult score, or trace the knife around the stem and have the kids finish the cut. Set aside the stem piece. Use this later when you put the finished product out on show.

Use an ice cream scoop or the pumpkin scoop to scoop out the seeds and excess pulp. Be gentle. Pumpkins are normally strong but it’s best to be gently to avoid breaking the pumpkin walls. The kids can later use the pumpkin seeds to roast and use the pulp to make pumpkin bread, cookies, or pumpkin pie.

Then, take a knife and cut out a face. This is a simple jack o lantern. Many templates are available in different designs from witches, cats’ faces and even elaborate Halloween scenes. These templates may appeal to kids who want something a little more than the ordinary. Put back the stem and you have a great Jack o’ Lantern. Add a candle or light to make the face glow at night.

Have the kids design their own patterns for pumpkin carving. Kids can draw a design on a piece of cardboard or other sturdy paper. Then cut out a template using that pattern. Tape it or trace the template onto the pumpkin. Then, carve it!

Alternatives to Carving

If the kids don’t want to carve, there’s always painting. Use acrylic paints as these are safer for kids. Then coat the pumpkin with a sealant to make it water proof. With the paint, anything is possible for decoration.

How to Save the Pumpkin Carving

After awhile, the pumpkin will probably rot. Even those painted and sealed pumpkins will eventually give way to decay. Have the kids take pictures with their carved pumpkins to remember later or put in a Halloween scrapbook.