Family Pumpkin Carving: Tips, Tradition And How To

Carving the family pumpkin is one of the most important parts in preparing for Halloween.

October 31st is Halloween, but the fun starts before this evening of fun and fright.

Having the whole family participate in the various Halloween activities is fun for everyone. Decorations can be placed inside and outside your house. Costumes need to be decided upon and created. Candy needs to be bought and bagged.

The most important stage of Halloween preparation is carving the family pumpkin.

No matter how many children you have, if you plan this activity properly everyone can participate in the cleaning, designing and carving of the family jack-o-lantern.

The first step is to purchase a pumpkin. The larger the better, as your young artist(s) will need space to be creative. Why not bring the whole family to the market and choose one together? Halloween is a time to share the fun.

These are a list of items you will need before you begin this fun filled activity:

· pumpkin carving tools - available at a grocery or drug store (optional)

· a work station that can bear the number of children you have (a picnic table is ideal for this activity as it keeps the guaranteed mess outside and provides plenty of fresh air for the children and adults alike)

· large garbage bags

· a couple of wash cloths and a bucket of soapy water

· two large plastic bowls (one for seeds and one for the pumpkin guts)

· a knife that will be used by an adult only

· large plastic or wooden spoon

· a pencil and a permanent marker

· children dressed in clothing that can afford to get dirty with pumpkin guts

Cut one side and the bottom of the garbage bags and cover the picnic table or the workstation you have chosen to use. Tape the garbage bags to the table so they do not blow around.

Make sure the clothes the children are wearing are appropriate for this activity.

Place the pumpkin near one end of the table. Place the bucket of soapy water on the floor, near the table and a couple of wash cloths on the table. Have the children, two at a time if possible, wash their pumpkin until it's clean. This first step is allowing each child feel attached the family jack-o-lantern.

Now that the pumpkin is clean on the outside, it is ready to be cleaned on the inside. This first step is to make an opening on the top of your pumpkin. This will enable you to have access to the inside. Make sure you remove the top as one piece as it will act as a lid to your jack-o-lantern.

An adult should use a sharp knife to get the lid off. In order to avoid the lid falling into the pumpkin, cut at an angle, slanted towards the center of the pumpkin. Clean off the guts from the lid and place it on the table.

Now the children can take turns cleaning out the guts from the inside of the pumpkin. Use the large plastic or wooden spoon to scrap the sides and bottom of the inner pumpkin. Clumps of guts (with little amount of seeds) can be placed in one bowl, where as clumps that contain many seeds, can be placed in the other bowl. These pumpkinseeds will be rinsed off later, baked and salted.

The children will find this task fun but tiring, so there will be little problem with wanting to share the work. Once the inside of your Halloween pumpkin is clean, have the kids rinse their hands.

Now you are ready to begin designing the face of your jack-o-lantern. Determine in advance who will begin and whose turn it will be next, to avoid arguments. It is also a good idea to allocate certain facial features to each child, ensuring that everyone gets the same amount of designing/carving activity.

Once you have determined who will start and what feature he will design, you can begin to sketch out a rough design. Use the pencil to start your sketching. When you have decided on where you want to cut, use a permanent marker to make the lines more visible.

Use a pumpkin tool to make small holes along the outside edge of the permanent marker design. Then use one of the cutting tools to make the incision. Children may need help to begin cutting. If you do not have these tools, a good knife with the aid of an adult will work as well. Pumpkin carving tools are ideal for little hands and allow them the opportunity to cut by themselves.

Allow each child the opportunity to perform the same steps before fine tuning your finished product.

Be sure to take photos of this fun activity, especially when little hands are covered with pumpkin guts. With everyone working together, the family jack-o-lantern will be exactly what it claims to be.

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