By Jessica Wilson
If I remember one thing from pumpkin carving as a child, it is the tears and the agony of an imperfect pumpkin. Oh, the agony! I’ve been pumpkin carving with kids for seven years now, and so far, so good. No tears involved! Here’s a nifty way to carve away … and I am sure I do not have to remind you that I do not recommend handing over a sharp knife to your child. The nephew a-go-go is indeed using a very sharp blade all on his lonesome in the following pictures. This is the first year we let him cut, under our close supervision. You know your child better than anyone else, so keep the blades far away unless you are very, very certain your young one can handle it.
Inspired to craft something for Halloween? Be sure to enter it in our CRAFT Halloween contest to win cool prizes. Costumes, decor, food – whatever you create for Halloween is welcome in the contest. Read our full contest page for all the details. Deadline to enter is November 2.
Paper & pencils
Large spoon or scoop
Pumpkin carving knife or other blade
Step 1: Start with the pumpkin talk! Get your young one excited if you have to but I am sure they develop it all on their own. Pass out a sheet of paper and let your little artist draw a few pumpkin-inspired faces. Be sure to use the shape of their pumpkin as inspiration. Lucky for us, we had a pumpkin with a pointy top just like the alien the nephew a-go-go really wanted to make.
Step 2: Set out your washable markers and the chosen design and have your child re-draw their face onto their pumpkin. Emphasize using the whole pumpkin for the drawing. Some children may end up drawing a tiny, tiny face in one corner and this would make it difficult to cut. If they are unhappy with their drawing at any time, use a damp cloth to wipe the pumpkin clean and start again.
Step 3: Carve out the top opening by circling the stem at an angle with the blade. Let your wee one scoop out the seeds by hand or with a spoon, dumping the whole mess onto a couple of sheets of newspaper or into a very large bowl. If you wish to roast those seeds, add them to a large bowl of salt water to soak. You can find some nifty seed recipes here and here.
Step 4: Now it is time to carve away. If you are going to carve the pumpkin, go for it. Take your time and don’t rush. There would be some major agony if something happened and YOU were the one carving. As you begin to carve, make sure your child is happy with the face they drew on and talk to them as you do it.
Step 5: If you are going to hand off a knife to your child make sure to solemnly convey how sharp the blade is. If you choose to let your child wield the knife, here is our tried-and-true tip to make it a successful carving: start small. Straight edges are easier to cut than curves, so if your child’s drawing has a lot of curves, convert them into squares and triangles first. The toughest part of the pumpkin is the skin so once they managed to pop out a square, rounding out the corners will be a piece of cake. We turned the nephew a-go-go’s eyes into squares first and broke down the jack o-lantern’s mouth into a series of triangles. Be patient, and reassure your child that going slow is much better than rushing. If you feel rushed, your child will as well, which can lead to accidents. So make sure to schedule your pumpkin carving on a day with lots of free time buffered all around.
Step 6: If, like the nephew a-go-go, your child draws the tiniest of tiny dots for nostrils or what have you, a drill bit works wonders for creating a perfectly round puncture. We held up various sizes until the nephew a-go-go was satisfied and then he twist, twist, twisted away until he pierced through the whole pumpkin.
Step 7: Use a damp cloth to wipe away marker marks. Some ink will seep into the cut edges of the carving so you can either proclaim how cool and gruesome the dark color makes the face look or you can go through with a thin blade and trim away the ink. Either way, be respectful of your child’s vision and make sure to ask before you dig in. This is your child’s pumpkin, not yours, and when allowed, kids make the most amazing pumpkins ever. If you wish to do a little carving as well, go get your own to hack at!
Step 8: Add a battery operated candle or a real life flame, cover and enjoy the holiday! Happy Halloween!
Note: You may wish to reverse steps 2 and 3. We found that drawing on the pumpkin and then carving out the top made for a little bit of mess with marker smears all over the place. They were easily wiped off bit to redraw it you should ask your child to do so and he or she may decide that isn’t cool. So, to keep thing calm, cut the top off first, scoop and then draw the face on.
About the Author:
Jessica Wilson is most happily known as ‘jek in the box’ and spends most of her time crafting it up and taking pictures. She can often be found standing on benches over on Flickr and creating all sorts of kiddie crafts on her blog scrumdilly-do! She lives a life of scrumdillydilly and loves to share.