Friday, October 30, 2015

How to help kids carve a pumpkin (safely)

Hobo Mama wants you to know she's a professional blogger! Look at how professional she's being!

Over the years of helping our little pumpkins enjoy pumpkin-patch excitement, Sam has come up with a few tricks (treats?) for involving little kids in carving a jack o'lantern without losing any fingers in the process.

You could go with just drawn-on pumpkins if you want to make the easiest choice, but if you want to wield a knife and really cut that pumpkin up, here are our best ideas for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary folk.

You can see the tips in action in our video, and I'll also describe below:

Trick #1: Let your baby loose with a marker.

For very young kids who are old enough to scribble but not much else, hand 'em a marker (preferably a nontoxic, nonpermanent sort) and let them loose on the pumpkin. Once they've scribbled their heart out, "find" a face in the assorted lines. This is a unique (I think) idea that Sam came up with when our first was little, and he's used it for many a Halloween since. He looks for vaguely eye-shaped, nose-shaped, and mouth-shaped lines in the matrix and then follows along them while carving. The result is always interesting, and it's different every time. (Bonus: There is no wrong design to choose!)

Trick #2: Have your preschooler draw the face, and you carve.

This is pretty self-explanatory. It's like the baby one but with kids who are old enough to know what a basic face configuration looks like. The wonderfulness of this trick is that the faces will be EPIC. Don't try to correct the weirdness. Carve it in stone. Er, gourd.

This is the superhero Sandwich Man!

Trick #3: Get a pumpkin-carving knife.

For those of you who want to be brave enough to let your children wield sharp(ish) cutlery, a pumpkin-carving knife is actually a really easy baby step because they tend to be dull, dull, dull, deadly dull. In a good way! Because this means a kid would really have to TRY to hurt someone with these things. You have to saw back and forth to actually cut the pumpkin, but it works well when you do, and it's easy enough for even kids to follow the drawn-on lines (builds motor skills!).

I don't know where to find the "best" one. We got ours in a cheap (really, really cheap) kit at the grocery store or dollar store or somewhere, and whenever I look at similar kits on Amazon, they have terrible reviews, but the point is: Just try one out. If it breaks or whatever, get another one, because they're so cheap. Cheap, cheap cheap. This pumpkin carver looks fairly sturdy and safe, but of course test it out first, teach basic knife safety skills, and supervise your kids around anything sharp. I hope yours works like ours does, because it's been going strong for years and hasn't cut anybody (but Mr. Jack O'Lantern) yet.

Spider ring optional.

We haven't lost a starfish hand yet.
They grow fingers back, right?

The video up top also includes our tips for carving a Minecraft pumpkin if your kids are inclined that way. Mikko's a huge fan!

Have spooooky fun this Halloween and let me know your pumpkin-carving secrets in the comments!


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