Halloween is quickly approaching, and pumpkins are in season! Yes, this does mean pumpkin spice items are back, but it also means a great opportunity for fun therapy activities; The Pumpkin Bag! The Pumpkin Bag offers a fun sensory experience and visual scanning game from set up to dismantle. The activity is inspired by these the blog posts here and here.
The set up for The Pumpkin Bag would take place when you're ready to start carving jack-o-lanterns. After you open the top, let your children scoop out the insides. Then, have your kids try to separate out all the seeds from the rest of the pumpkin insides. The slimy texture of the pumpkin guts and the semi-hard texture of the seeds are a great contrast for sensory exploration. To incorporate speech, have them think of words to describe the way the pumpkin insides and seeds feel, smell, and look. You can ask them to compare and contrast the two.
After the seeds are separated, put the pumpkin innards into a secure sandwich bag that won't break open. Add a few small trinkets like plastic spiders, bat rings, and other cheap Halloween toy items (preferably not orange ones, though, since those may be a little too difficult to find in the pumpkin insides). Set the bag in a pan so that if it does accidentally open, it's contained, and then have your kids play an I SPY game to find all the toys you hid in the pumpkin guts. You may want to start with keeping the bag still in the tray and describing an item for them to find, such as “I spy something black, that makes webs!” When at least two items are found, you can again add speech to the mix by having your kids describe the location. For example, “Is the spider above, or below the bat?” After a few items are found, let your kids poke the bag or mush it around to uncover items that may have settled at the bottom or had gotten covered up. This also keeps sensory in the game and lets them feel how different the pumpkin guts are to touch through the bag.
When all the items have been found, let your kids take them out of the bag. The toys offer a new variety of textures to seek inside the pumpkin guts than the seeds did. You can make this into a second I SPY game by having them dig and feel for a specific toy.
The Pumpkin Bag is a great sensory and visual scanning game from start to finish!