Here’s a fun and creative way to carve and decorate your pumpkins – kind of like a pumpkin “snowman”! It utilizes more of the bounty of fall than just pumpkins, and is a great activity for the whole family! Even teens will want to make one these crazy characters.
To download the PDF of the Pumpkin People craft activity, click here.
Level of Difficulty:
Average – This craft is fun and appropriate for the whole family, from ages 3 to adult, but some steps do require adult assistance. Children 8+ may be able to do this craft with very little assistance. Note: we do recommend using a glue gun and you will need an adult to help with this step. If you have any questions while doing the craft, please click on Contact Us on our website and we will respond as quickly as possible.
Estimated Completion Time: Approximately 1 to 2 hours per character, plus time spent gathering materials.
List of Materials Needed:
– Pumpkins and Gourds in assorted sizes and shapes. You’ll need 3 per character
– Autumn Nature Materials: Acorns, Leaves, Twigs, Dried Berries, Dried Flowers, Bark, Seed Pods, Pinecones, etc.
– Autumn Market Materials: Root Veggies, Nuts, Seeds, Dried Beans, Cinnamon Sticks, Cloves, etc.
– Bamboo Skewers and/or Chopsticks
– Glue Gun (WARNING: Glue gun must be used with adult supervision. The glue is very hot and can burn.)
Pumpkin Carving Tools:
– Kid-safe Carving Knife Adult Carving Knife for cutting tops out of the pumpkins (must only be used by adults)
– Awl or round sharp tool for poking holes. We used a Nutpick, but you could also use a large, thick nail or metal knitting needle
– Large Serving Spoon for digging out the pumpkin seeds (clean and bake these with salt for a nutritious snack!)
– Optional: Potato Peeler – can be used to adjust the size and shape of carrots & parsnips
Step 1: Get a paper or plastic bag with a handle and go for a nature walk. Collect acorns, twigs, pretty leaves, dried flowers, anything that is relatively sturdy and inspiring…and dry. Don’t worry too much about having the right items, just get a variety and then toss out what you don’t use. Here’s an example of some of the items we started with.
Step 2: At your local Farmer’s Market or grocery, buy a variety of pumpkins and gourds, root veggies and assorted dried beans, nuts and seeds. We used pie pumpkins, heirloom pumpkins, acorn squash, butternut squash, rutabaga, carrot, parsnips, shallots, 3 colors of dried beans, peanuts in the shell and whole cloves! Use what you have on hand or go shopping specifically with an eye for foods that will make interesting body or face parts. Other ideas are dried peppers, pasta, nuts in the shell, rice, dried mushrooms. Don’t use anything fresh that will easily spoil, try to utilize dried items that are not too fragile or brittle.
Step 3: Gather your tools. Note that some of these tools can only be used by adults. Luckily there are just a few times when you’ll need to ask for their assistance and the rest can be done by the kids 🙂
Step 4: Stacking. Start with the pumpkins, gourds and large root veggies. Try stacking items together and choose 3 pieces that will make a nice Pumpkin “Snowman”. Sometimes you’ll find items that remind you of a head or body, but do not stack easily, like this rutabaga that still has some roots attached that look like hair. We’ll show you how you can stack these items in Step 5.
Here are examples of our stacking experiments:
Step 5: Stabilize your stack. There are 4 ways to do this. Work with your stack to determine what will work best.
1) The easiest is if the items are all flat topped (except for the top of the head) and fit together fairly well by just rotating each until it finds a natural fit with the one below. Sometimes this involves cutting away the stem.
2) If after rotating you cannot get the items to stop wobbling or rolling off, use twigs and/or play dough as wedges between the cracks.
3) Or you can poke holes in the top of the bottom piece and in the bottom of the top piece and insert bamboo skewers or chopsticks as pinions. We used this technique for attaching the acorn squash head to the pumpkin body. See below.
4) Lastly, if an item has a natural “neck”, cut a large hole in the lower piece about the same size as the “neck” and insert. See example at right. We also used this technique for attaching the rutabaga head to the butternut body. If you cut a large opening in the top of a pumpkin, then use the large spoon to dig out all the seeds.
Step 6: Designing your character. Play with the materials you’ve gathered and try holding different elements up to see what they will look like. Good items for eyes are beans, nuts, seeds, flower petals or pine cones. Hair can be made with dried leaves, flower petals, or the natural roots or stem, like on Rutie, our rutabaga boy. Consider ears, eyes, nose, mouth, hair, arms, feet and clothing elements, like suspenders, belts, bowtie, eyeglasses and jewelry. You can add eyebrows or a mustache! There is no right or wrong way to do this, just use what looks good to YOU! Make it as simple or elaborate as you like.
Step 7: Attaching your features. Use one of these methods for attaching the features:
1) Hole Punch Method – use your awl to create a hole where you want the feature/element to be placed. Push the item into the hole until it is secure. This works well for beans and leaf stems and twigs. It is used here (on the right) on the side of the body to create a hole to insert twig arms.
2) Cut Hole Method – If you have a larger item to insert, like a carrot, use your awl to punch holes in a circle that is the same size as the carrot (or item you’re inserting). Next use a kid-friendly pumpkin carving tool to cut away all the stuff inside the circle. Push the carrot into the large hole until it is the length you desire. We used this method for Gordita’s nose.
3) Hot Glue Method – Some items are best placed flat against the surface, such as dried leaves, ferns, flower petals, etc. A parent must assist in using the hot glue gun. Heat up the gun and then squeeze a dab of glue where you want to apply a feature. Then stick the item into the hot, wet glue. It dries very quickly, so adjust the position if needed and hold a second before releasing. We used this to make Rutie’s leaf belt.
Step 8: Set your Pumpkin People outside to welcome your guests! Note that little critters may enjoy nibbling on your creation! And don’t forget to take pictures to upload to Facebook.
Complete feature/method listing for Gordita:
Head – Pie Pumpkin
Torso & Bottom – Heirloom Pumpkins
Eyes – Hole Punch with inserted Kidney Beans
Nose – Cut Hole with inserted Carrot
Mouth – Hole Punch series with inserted Cloves
Eyebrows – Hot Glue applied Flower Petals
Hair – Hole Punch with sprigs of dried Hydrangea
Arms – Hole Punch with Purple Coneflower Seed Pods & Stems
Necklace – Hot Glue applied Lupini Beans
Skirt Ruffle – Hot Glue applied Oak and Maple Leaves
Complete feature/method listing for Rutie:
Head – Rutabaga
Torso – Butternut Squash
Bottom – Jack-o-Lantern Pumpkin
Eyes – Hot Glue applied Split Peas
Mouth – Hot Glue applied Kidney Bean
Ears – Hot Glue applied Peanuts in Shell
Hair – Natural Root of the Rutabaga
Hat/Crown – Hot Glue applied Maple Leaf
Arms – Cut Hole with inserted Parsnips
Necktie – Hot Glue applied Dried Curled Leaves
Belt – Hot Glue applied Yellow Leaves
Feet – Chunks of Oak Bark (not attached)
Complete feature/method listing for Acornelia:
Head – Acorn Squash
Torso – Pie Pumpkin
Bottom – Heirloom Pumpkin
Eyes – Carved away surface of squash to expose the flesh, then Hole Punch to insert Kidney Beans
Nose – The Stem of the Acorn Squash
Mouth – Hot Glue applied Peanut in the Shell
Hair – Hole Punch series with inserted Dried Curled Leaves
Arms – Hole Punch applied Dried Weed with Seed Pods
Buttons – Hot Glue applied Great Northern Beans
Feet – Shallots (not attached, just tucked under)
To download the PDF of the Pumpkin People craft activity, click here.
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