Montessori is all about practical life skills and we all know children learn through play! So your preschooler is going to love this montessori pumpkin activity: smashing pumpkins!
This montessori Halloween activity teaches fine motor skills, and instills the foundation for future hammering and construction!
- Pumpkin: either a craft pumpkin or a medium sized pumpkin that fits in your child's lap) OR a REALLY big heavy/sturdy pumpkin – if using a real pumpkin, look for one with a flat back!
- Golf tees
- Child size hammer
- Optional: Sharpie
How To Do Pumpkin Hammering: A Montessori Pumpkin Activity
Option 1: Free play (good for younger toddlers)
Give your child all the supplies, show them how to hammer a golf tee into the pumpkin, and let them go wild!
Or you can start the golf tees for them and let them hammer the tees all the way into the random pattern you did. In other words, you'd give your toddler the pumpkin with a bunch of golf tees sticking out and there job would be to hammer them all the way down.
Option 2: 3D Design (good for older preschoolers and kids)
Using the sharpie, draw a design (jack-o-lantern face, numbers, letters, etc.) on the pumpkin and have them hammer the golf tees into the design!
This is actually GREAT practice for future pumpkin carving as well!
In fact, if you don't fancy yourself an artist, you could even use the pumpkin carving sheets taped onto the pumpkin and have them use the hammer and golf tees as a safer alternative if they aren't quite ready for pumpkin carving.
IMPORTANT PUMPKIN SELECTION TIPS:
When it comes to choosing a pumpkin you need to really think about your child's size and skill level!
For young toddlers, I'd suggest hammering the golf tees into the pumpkin a little, and then have them hammer the tees all the way in.
Otherwise, they will need both hands to do this activity. One to hold the golf tee in place, the other to hammer with. Meaning they won't be able to stabilize the pumpkin as well.
So you either need to get a REALLY large, heavy pumpkin that can stabilize itself, or one that can fit in their lap or be stabilized on it's side.
If your child is on the smaller size, you may want to go with a medium sized pumpkin and option 1. This way they can practice hammering things into the top of the pumpkin and the pumpkin can sit regularly.
If you or your child really wants to do option 2, I'd go with a large sturdy pumpkin or find a pumpkin that has a “flat back” – you know the dud pumpkins that people usually don't want! So they can lay it on it's side and it won't roll around on them while hammering.
How I’d Introduce This Activity:
- First with golf tees hammered into the pumpkin a little with a toy hammer
- Next with the pumpkin on a pillow, golf tees separate, and toy hammer
- Then with the golf tees started a little and a REAL child sized hammer (keeps their fingers safe as they learn the weight of a real hammer!)
- Then with the real hammer and tees in a bowl
Set up and clean up time:
This activity literally takes 2 minutes to set up and 1 minute to clean up. You can even set your pumpkin out for display afterwards so you just need to clean up any remain golf tees.
How my toddler enjoyed this activity:
Well at first, I tried to let her use her toy hammer from a Lovevery play kit. It was too soft to get the golf tee to pierce the pumpkin initially, so I'd have to start each golf tee then she'd finish it with the hammer.
Overall, it was kind of a bust and she even asked for the real hammer, haha! Only the real hammer was too big for her hands and she got frustrated very quickly.
So I ordered this child sized hammer and revisited this activity a few days later and she loved it! In retrospect, we chose the wrong pumpkin for sure. This pumpkin would've been better suited for my Charlie Brown Great Pumpkin Activity. But we still had a blast and I think it's something she'll love doing even more next year after she gets some more practice hammering flat surfaces before we attempt a curved on like this again!
Despite all the hiccups we had along the way with this montessori Halloween activity, she really did love it and was so persistent on trying to get the jack-o-lantern face on the pumpkin! I have to give her so much credit for her ingenuity (asking for a real hammer), and resilience (keeping her cool when limitations presented).
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