Pumpkins are such a fun sensory item for your baby this Fall! With the below steps this one item can engage all Five Senses! My daughters have each been in a Montessori classroom as babies and toddlers so these activities are derived from Montessori principles I observed, which combine a focus on sensory, fine motor skills, and nature. This activity is very easy and can be done with small pumpkins or big pumpkins, but I do recommend that they are real pumpkins rather than plastic ones. Also as a disclaimer please always carefully observe babies and toddlers during these activities to keep learning and play safe!
Observe the Pumpkin!
Initially just allow the baby or toddler to observe the pumpkin on their level, which will target sight and tactile senses. This could be on the floor during tummy time, on a shelf during playtime, and/or on their high chair tray or at a small table if they are old enough.
When the child interacts with the pumpkin then take the opportunity to describe the pumpkin saying things like:
“Do you like the orange pumpkin?”
“The orange pumpkin is smooth”
“The smooth pumpkin is heavy”, or
“The pumpkin has a rough stem”.
Allowing the child time to get used to this new object and discover it for themselves is the first sensory activity.
What’s Inside the Pumpkin?
Next when you are ready it is time to carve the pumpkin and let your child interact with the insides of the pumpkin. For this next step of the pumpkin sensory experience, I recommend prepping the night before if possible. With babies, I recommend carving the pumpkin and placing the insides of the pumpkin into a Ziploc bag for a more mess-free experience. You can then tape Ziploc bag of pumpkin insides onto the floor, a table, and/or a high chair tray. Then allow the child to touch the inside of the pumpkin. If you’re up for more of a mess and always under a very attentive eye, then you can allow your child to just engage with the insides of the pumpkin directly.
Again whichever way you choose to introduce the carved pumpkin make sure you describe the experience with phrases like:
“Does the pumpkin inside feel squishy?”
“Does the pumpkin feel cold?”
“Does the pumpkin smell?”
“Does the pumpkin make a sound?”
This commentary will further engage your baby or toddler and engage their sight, smell, sound, and tactile skills.
Taste the Pumpkin with Muffins
Finally, you can round out the pumpkin sensory activity by making these yummy pumpkin muffins. This is a fun activity do during babies nap time or with a toddler if they are old enough to help. This will allow everyone to enjoy the yummy taste of pumpkin. These muffins are not only delicious, but perfect for baby and Mom! Recipe adapted from 3 Fall Blender Muffins for Baby + Toddler – Baby Foode.
- 1 cup dry old-fashioned oats
- 1 ripe banana
- 1 pouch or cup of applesauce
- 1/4 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 egg
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or line a mini muffin tray.
In a blender, add in the oats, banana, applesauce, pumpkin puree, egg, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice. Blend for 20 seconds on low, scrape down the sides of the blender. Blend on high for 1-2 minutes or until all of the oats are completely broken down.
Add in the baking soda and salt and blend on low for 20 seconds.
Spoon the muffin batter out of the blender and fill the muffin tin 2/3 the way full.
Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown on top. Let cool and then serve.
I truly hope from beginning to end this pumpkin sensory activity creates fun memories for you and your little ones!