Halloween Jack O'lantern Carving: Easy Instructions

Step-by-step directions on how to carve a Jack O Lantern.

Carving a Jack O Lantern can be a fun traditional family activity.

Step 1 - Choose a pumpkin:

For the best selection, take a family outing to your local supermarket or roadside produce stand a week or two before Halloween. Allow each child to select a pumpkin, keeping in mind that odd shapes and sizes can make interesting Jacks. You might select extra pumpkins for children who think they are too old to participate. When the fun begins, they may change their minds.

Step 2 - design your Jack's face:

You will need:

· Paper

· Pencils or crayons

Give each child several sheets of paper and pencils or crayons. Have each child draw faces for their pumpkins, outlining the basics: 2 eyes, a nose, and a mouth. Remind the artists that each feature will have to be carved into the pumpkin; straight lines, slight curves and half circles work best. Other features may be added depending on the skill of the carver: Ears, eyebrows, and scars. The children may continue to design their Jacks until the evening before Halloween when they should make their final pattern selection.

Step 3 - Select your pattern and outline your Jack's face:

You will need:

· Newspaper

· Pumpkin

· Jack pattern

· Permanent markers

On Halloween Eve, select a pattern for each Jack. Spread newspaper on the table or bar in front of each child (have children wear old clothes). Set the pumpkin on the paper and have each child rotate the pumpkin to choose the best side for Jack's face. Lay the pattern beside the pumpkin. Your child may need assistance depending on his or her artistic ability. Using a permanent marker, sketch an outline on the pumpkin using the pattern for reference. Use the pumpkin's shape to enhance the features. If your pumpkin is tall, give your Jack a long nose; if he is small, give him a button nose. Let your imagination turn your Jack into a holiday masterpiece.

Step 4 - Carving your Jack O Lantern

You will need:

· Newspaper

· Pumpkins

· Large sharp knife

· Small sharp knife

· Long handled spoon

· Large Bowl

On Halloween morning or afternoon, spread newspapers on the counter and set the first pumpkin in the center. An adult or older child should use the large knife to cut a circle around the top of the pumpkin. This will be Jack's hat. Remove the hat and use the small knife to remove any pumpkin strings that may be attached. The kids can handle the next step. Use the long-handled spoon to gut the strings and seeds from inside the pumpkin. Place them in the bowl for easy clean up. Use the small knife to cut each facial feature. Cut around each feature then gently push the section from inside the pumpkin to remove. Work slowly to avoid mistakes in your artwork. Repeat with each pumpkin.

Step 4 - Display your Jack O Lantern

Display your Jack O Lantern on your front porch or from a table placed in front of a window. Place a votive candle in a candle glass inside the pumpkin. Light the candle, put on Jack's hat and you're all set. Don't forget to take pictures for your holiday scrapbook.

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