Like many other fun and simple activities, carving a pumpkin is a great way to work on occupational therapy skills right at home. Such skills include fine motor, visual motor, bilateral coordination, executive functioning, along with imagination and creativity.
Here is a quick breakdown of the Pumpkin Carving activity:
- Choosing a pumpkin: this in itself provides the child with independence and decision making skills. The child is required to pick a pumpkin of his choosing and be confident in his selection.
- Scraping out the insides: not only does this piece of the activity provide a great amount of tactile input, as the guts of the pumpkin are squishy and cold, but it also provides a significant amount of bilateral skills and upper body strength (holding the pumpkin steady with one hand and scraping with a large spoon with the other hand).
- Creating a face for the pumpkin: this works on drawing age appropriate shapes (e.g. circles, squares, triangles, diamonds) to become the eyes, nose, mouth, and ears of the pumpkin. It also lets the child be his own artist and lets his creative juices flow, as there is no right or wrong way to do it.
- Adding details with toothpicks: oftentimes children like to add on external pieces to their pumpkins, like ears. This can be done by poking a toothpick through the extra piece of the pumpkin, which would again work on bilateral skills and also hand and finger strength. Additionally, it works on muscle grading to control how much force is put onto the pumpkin, so that the small piece of the pumpkin or the toothpick does not break.
- Baking the pumpkin seeds: this step of the pumpkin carving process allows the child to try new foods and spices, and also works on following a recipe. For many children, pumpkin seeds may be a new texture to explore and eat, if they don’t eat other seeds often (e.g. sunflower seeds). Trying new textures and foods is a great way to broaden your child’s taste buds.
Overall, it is extremely important for parents to remember that occupational skills can be easily incorporated into daily tasks, and especially into fun holiday activities! Carving pumpkins is a perfect way to bring the whole family together, and incorporates many age appropriate skills! Happy carving!