Carving pumpkins with kids can be one of the best things about the fall. But figuring out how to carve pumpkins with kids can also be the most dreaded, and most stressful tasks of the season. It doesn’t have to be this way though!
You’re trying to wield a sharp knife and a giant pumpkin. Meanwhile, your preschooler is running around the house with either a sharpie marker or pumpkin guts all over their hands.
- Related: Preschool Pumpkin Printables
I’ve come up with a better strategy this year. Using a free pumpkin carving steps printable and some simple supplies, you can more peacefully carve pumpkins with your kids this year.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links; read more here.
Pumpkin Carving Supplies
Some simple swaps with your supplies can make pumpkin carving with kids much more pleasant.
- Carving Kit
These make a huge difference. The saw and scoop are safer for children and more effective than your kitchen knives and spoons.
Make sure you have a few new sharpies for this project. First, it will eliminate fighting to have plenty to go around. Second, it can give your child something to do during the inevitable waiting period. You can even let them color on a pumpkin with sharpies.
- Tea lights
Get your safe LED tea lights so you don’t have to work about fire safety.
- Plastic table cloth
If you don’t subscribe to the newspaper anymore, get a paper or disposable plastic table cloth. Sure it’s more garbage in the landfill, so you can always get a compostable paper tablecloth. We’ve also use paper grocery bags cut open but it’s kind of messy still as they don’t lay flat.
This was a generous discovery. We could give our kids acrylic paints and brushes and let them go to town painting while we continued the boring work of scooping. Acrylic paints are permanent when dried but washable with soap and warm water while wet.
When my kids get tired, we show Elmo’s Magical Halloween Adventure because it has a cute pumpkin carving segment. It’s streams for free in you have Amazon Prime. If you don’t, get a free trial. They also like Curious George Boofest and watching it has become a tradition for our family
Steps to Carving Pumpkins with Kids
First thing you need to do is grab the printable. You can laminate it if you’d like to reuse it next year. Then show it to your children and go over the steps.
This will help manage their expectations. You can explain which parts you’re going to do on which days.
On our printable, I wrote the dates for my daughter. We plan to go to the pumpkin patch on October 12. We will carve (steps 2-6) on October 26. We will light it on October 31.
1. Choose a Pumpkin
Set the expectation for your child. Do you go to the pumpkin as a family outing or do you choose one at the grocery store.
Also, decide if you need to label which pumpkin belongs to which person in your family.
2. Draw a face on the pumpkin
You’ll need Sharpies for this. We freestyle in this family but there a ton of free stencils available online.
At this point, depending on the age of your kids. They might be done and it might be time to break out the paints with your preschooler or show a DVD.
If you’re really organized, you have some fall theme activities ready for your children.
3. Cut the top of pumpkin
Explain what your family rules are for this. Is this an adult-only job? On the printable, it says a “grown helps cut the top off the pumpkin.”
Make the decision ahead of time what this means for your family.
4. Scoop out the insides of the out pumpkin
For this step, usually using bare hands works well for the beginning.
Decide where you want them to go. Into a bowl or are you fine with straight on the tablecloth or newpaper.
5. Sort out the seeds
Sorting out the seeds can be a fun activity for while you move onto the next step. You can roast them or let them dry and have your kids glue them onto paper.
Have your kiddos wash their hands at this point.
6. Carve the face with a grown-up
Again decide ahead of time how much of this task you want to let your children do.
In our family, we get each shape started and then let our older child continue.
Usually, our younger child has lost interest at this point. Again this is where the sesame street DVD comes in handy!
7. Put a candle inside
We set the expectation that we only light the Jack O lantern on Halloween.
Painting Pumpkins with Children
If carving is just too advanced for some of your children, I really urge you to consider using washable acrylic paints and to let your younger kids paint their pumpkins.
Here’s the steps that have worked for us:
- While they are washable, put on play clothes, a smock, or let them paint in their underwear or diaper. You don’t need to worry about the laundry.
- Cover the table with newspaper or paper bags.
- Get a variety of paintbrushes to minimize mixing.
- Open the paints.
- Supervise. Just let them paint. You can take a breather or carve the other pumpkins.
- Make sure to wash hands and the pain brushes while the paint is still wet. Soap and warm water work well!
- Let the pumpkin air dry.
- Take lots of photos.
Our children are just as excited to paint pumpkins as they are to carve. So grab some acrylic paints and have fun!
Recapping How to Carve Pumpkins with Kids
- Grab my free printable.
- Set up the expectations for your child.
- Purchase your supplies.
- Pick pumpkins.
- Prep the area for pumpkin carving.
- Prep the painting area if you plan to do that.
- Carve your pumpkins.
- Enjoy your jack o lanterns on Halloween.
Steps to Carve a Pumpkin Printable
Grab this free printable. Use it to get yourself organized to carve pumpkins with your kids. And to manage your children’s expectations. And enjoy simpler, less stressful holiday traditions.