Halloween Countdown Day 26: Pumpkin Power

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It turns out that October 26 is Pumpkin Day, as if the gourd needs one specific day in a month that seems to be all about it! But we took the opportunity to test an unappreciated ability of pumpkins: to generate electricity!

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Much like those old potato or lemon experiments, you can hook up two pumpkins to make a clock run or an LED light turn on.

I originally tried to follow online instructions, but had to maneuver things a little differently to line up with the particular items that came in a fruit-battery kit we purchased. The set-up looks like this: lnsert a cooper strip and a zinc strip into each of 2 small pumpkins.

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Use an alligator clip wire to attach the copper strip from one pumpkin to the zinc strip from the second pumpkin.

Now, use a second wire with alligator clip to attach the zinc strip from the first pumpkin to the negative node of either a multimeter, clock, or LED light.

Use a third wire with alligator clip to attach the copper strip from the second pumpkin to the positive node of the multimeter, clock, or LED light. Hopefully the photos in this post make all that clearer!

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Your circuit should be complete.

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Travis was wowed watching our clock blink on. At one point we left it running for over an hour.

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Why does this work? Pumpkin flesh has acid (though not as much as lemons), which means the zinc strip will start to lose electron ions. Those ions travel over to copper, which generates electricity.

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Now that’s pumpkin power!

Halloween Countdown Day 24: Hallo-Bowling

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In the summer, it was giant inflatable unicorn bowling around here. Now that it’s fall, it was time for Hallo-Bowling!

To make this spooky spin on regular bowling, first cover paper towel tubes with white crepe paper. You’ll need to work carefully, wrapping a layer of crepe paper, applying glue, wrapping again, and then repeating all the way down the tube. It was almost like making mummy wraps!

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I then added big round Os for eyes and mouths with black marker. Set up your pins in a triangle, and now here’s the extra Halloween twist: your bowling ball is a round pumpkin!

The rounder your little pumpkin, the better. Then just set up the pins and give it a roll.

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Travis, especially, loved watching those wide-eyed ghosts get knocked down.

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Pumpkin Craft for Toddlers

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This pretty suncatcher craft was a nice alternative to playing with real pumpkins!

To start, I taped a large piece of contact paper on to our craft table, sticky side up, and then set out a tray filled with squares of cut tissue paper. We had squares in red, orange, and yellow.

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Veronika immediately loved pressing the tissue paper onto the sticky surface and seeing that they got left behind when she lifted her hand away.

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I helped a little so that we could completely fill in a roughly circular area.

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Cover with a second sheet of contact paper, sticky side down, then trim into a pumpkin shape.

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For a stem, I simply taped on a rectangle of green construction paper. Hang in a window or doorway and watch the sun play tricks through the colors.

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You’ll get a neat double dose of orange, first from anywhere your toddler has actually attached orange tissue paper, and second from any place that yellow and red overlap!

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Pumpkins with Mustaches

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It was time to get silly with some of the pumpkins we brought home from the farm stand!

You can start with pale or white pumpkins for this project, saving yourself the step of painting. But since painting is half the fun, we used orange pumpkins and first pulled out the white paint.

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Veronika loved slathering it all over two pumpkins. I recommend at least two coats of paint if you don’t want any orange peeking through, and would have done a third coat had there been time.

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Once the paint dried, we glued on mustache templates that I found online. Travis got to pick which shapes we’d use! You could also draw them with marker, but the 3-D effect is so fun.

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Silly and unexpected pumpkins like these are sure to delight those who see them on your doorstep.

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Melted Crayon Pumpkins

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After melting crayons to make planets, Travis wanted more melt-y fun this morning. So we thought we could decorate pumpkins this way!

Our pack of crayons had multiple hues in the red, orange, and yellow family, so I took all those from the box and soaked them briefly in water. This will help the wrappers slip right off. Snap each crayon in half.

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At first we tried arranging them around the stem of our medium-sized pumpkins, but realized they were going to slide off, as they was not enough surface area to rest on.

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So then we thought to do the project on our biggest pumpkin, even though the original intent was to save this one for carving. Now, although the crayons could balance, they flew off as soon as we turned the hair dryer on!

Thinking quickly, we backtracked to our medium pumpkins (phew, the big guy can safely await carving day), but this time I used a dab of hot glue to secure each crayon near the stem.

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Success! Now we could turn the hair dryer to high heat without the crayons flying off. It’ll take a few moments of patience, but sure enough, they’ll begin to ooze and melt.

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This was fantastic fun, all the more so because the goriness of melting crayons just feels downright Halloween-y. It takes longer than I would have thought, but Travis insisted on watching every dripping, melting moment.

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He loved when rivulets of wax would drip down but cool almost instantly (in much the same way that icicles form), leaving neat strings of wax behind.

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These were fun to snap off, too!

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Keep going until all your crayons are completely melted.

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One note of caution: the melted wax will fly further than you think, due to the force of air coming out of the hair dryer. So be sure to cover your surface area completely with wax paper or newspaper.

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The end result is a beautiful way to decorate your pumpkins with no carving knife!

Drawing on Pumpkins with Markers

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Veronika has loved decorating our pumpkins in the run-up to the big carving day, so I needed another version to keep her happy. This one has the added bonus because kids can draw, wipe clean, and then repeat the process as many times as they like!

I set out two of our medium-sized pumpkins, along with lots of washable markers. The naturally waxy surface of a pumpkin is perfect for markers, so your little one can draw as easily as if it’s paper.

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Veronika just scribbled of course, but I made a few jack o’ lantern features on the pumpkin next to her.

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Then I showed her the secret: one swipe of a wet wipe and her drawings were magically erased!

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She loved giving her pumpkins a ‘bath’ in this way. “He’s all clean,” she told me proudly. And then she could start the process again.

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Because you don’t have to worry about a mess, this craft is also a perfect toddler solo activity while you get other things done around the house.

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Sparkly and Googly Eyed Pumpkins

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We had three mini pumpkins that were just begging to be decorated. And this craft will cater perfectly to your toddler’s messy instincts!

I set out little cups of glue and a few filled with large sequins and wiggle eyes, and placed these all on a craft tray. The idea was that the tray would contain most of the mess.

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Well, Veronika had other ideas. Before we even started, she began transferring sequins from cup to cup and then dumped them all over the floor. (“Well, that’s a mess,” said big brother Travis!).

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This didn’t deter us one bit! I showed her how to spread glue on the pumpkins with a paintbrush. Once they were good and sticky, we could liberally apply the sequins.

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I thought she might want to dump them on, but Veronika loved carefully applying one at a time!

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The wiggle eyes added fun and slightly kooky character.

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Needless to say, we made a mess, but we had a blast.

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Note: Because the sequins could be a hazard for wildlife, I recommend displaying these particular no-carve pumpkins indoors.

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No Carve Nature Pumpkins

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It was a brisk fall morning, perfect for one of our nature walks to collect treasures. This time, I specifically kept my eyes open for items that we would be able to later glue onto pumpkins. We came home with sticks, leaves, pine cones, and acorns. I had hoped to spot some maple keys, but didn’t see any.

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I arranged all of our treasures onto a craft tray, and Veronika loved sorting through the items.

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As she simply explored with all her senses, I arranged the items with more purpose to see what would work where on each pumpkin as facial features.

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Our first orange fellow soon had acorn eyes, a stick nose, a leaf mouth, and a big branch of multiple leaves for hair.

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He was soon joined by a second orange friend, this one with acorns for eyes and nose, leaves for mouth and ears, and a fun little pine cone headdress. I tucked a few leaves behind the pine cone so it almost looked like one of those fancy fascinator hats!

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Veronika was clearly delighted when she saw that our pumpkins now had eyes, noses, and more.

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They look quite jolly and happy on our patio. As with our recent pumpkin mask craft, this is a great way to decorate pumpkins a ways out from Halloween, since they won’t rot before the big night.

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Pumpkin Halloween Masks

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We made a quick paper bag mask for Veronika today, which prompted the idea to make masks for our pumpkins, too! This is, incidentally, a great craft if your kids are constantly asking if it’s time to carve the pumpkins into jack o’ lanterns yet (ahem, like mine are). Adorn them with these mask faces now, and everyone is happy until carving day!

First, Travis helped me design a few masks for our biggest pumpkins. The lights were out from a storm (spooky!) so we drew by flashlight, which perfectly fit the mood. Let your kids design however they like, or provide examples like silly cheeks and big toothy grins.

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I repeated the activity with Veronika once the lights were on the next morning, drawing a brightly-colored jack o’ lantern face against an orange background while she scribbled on another piece of paper.

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She loved helping punch holes in the sides of each paper when we were done.

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I threaded bright yarn through the holes and then tied securely around each pumpkin.

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Our pumpkins have faces, and there’s no risk of rotting!

Sensory Pumpkin Decorating

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This activity is half sensory bin, half a way to decorate a pumpkin with your toddler without pulling out the carving knives. Which adds up to 100% fun!

I wanted an assortment of items to decorate our pumpkins, aiming for a variety of textures. I also wanted to stick to a white and black color scheme for Halloween. So in a shallow craft tray, I lined up: dried corn, black feathers, uncooked white rice, black birdseed, and white sesame seeds.

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You can mix and match based on what you have on hand, but aim for a nice variety of texture and size. Veronika immediately wanted to dig through the items in the tray with little plastic cups, so things didn’t stay in their “area” for long.

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But I loved watching her explore all the texture. She especially seemed to like those fluffy craft feathers!

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Meanwhile, I set to work making the first pumpkin for her. Add big dabs of glue to a pumpkin with a craft stick, working around the stem. I then sprinkled one of our sensory materials on each portion.

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These made a neat ring around the stem once I had finished, and now she could feel along them for a great sensory experience.Sensory Pumpkin Decorating (4)

I left the decorating of the second pumpkin entirely up to her. She poured the glue around the top in a full ring, then used her little plastic cup to scoop and pour.

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The end result was a neat mishmash of all the items.

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I loved that the sensory play was part of both the decorating process and the final product.

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