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I am of the belief that kids should do lots of fine motor activities in order to strengthen their hands and fingers. Fine motor skills are crucial for kids to master tasks such as buttoning their shirts, tying their shoes, using scissors, and writing well-formed letters and words.
But how do you get kids motivated to work their little muscles? I like to come up with seasonal and thematic activities that are engaging for kids while also helping them build their skills.
Pumpkins, of course, are ubiquitous this time of year. Every store I walk in to is selling pumpkins of one size or another!
Decorate a pumpkin using pins and buttons
I’m obsessed with the mini pumpkins that appear in stores this time of year. You can use these mini pumpkins to support the development of fine motor skills by showing your kids how to decorate them using pins and buttons.
I put some fabric pins and buttons on a tray along with a mini pumpkin.
I demonstrated for my kids how to stick the buttons on the pumpkin by pushing the pins through the button holes into the flesh of the pumpkin. And then I let them get creative with their decorating.
Their little fingers had to really work to get the pins in, but they had so much fun and were so proud of their decorated pumpkins when they were through.
Polish a pumpkin with water
I love the Montessori approach to education, and I feature many Montessori activities on my blog.
This pumpkin polishing activity is a typical Montessori practical life activity that develops children’s fine motor skills.
I put a pumpkin and a spray bottle filled with water on a tray. I also included a washcloth and a Q-tip. I showed my kids how to spray water on their pumpkins. Using a spray bottle is a great way to strengthen little fingers!
It was amazing to see how much fun my kids had with this simple polishing activity. They couldn’t get enough of using the spray bottle!
I then showed my kids how to use the washcloth and Q-tip to polish their pumpkins. My kids really got into this activity and worked until their pumpkins were spotless.
Smash a pumpkin with a hammer
Smashing a pumpkin with a hammer is a great activity to do with your leftover Halloween pumpkins or jack-o-lanterns. My son went crazy for this activity!
Safety is crucial with this activity, of course. You need to ensure that the hammer is not too heavy for your child to use safely. (I recommend a lightweight hammer like this one from Montessori services.)
I also showed my son how to use the hammer so he would hit the pumpkin rather than miss and end up hitting himself in the leg or foot.
And although my son is not wearing goggles in the picture below, some sort of protective eye gear would be an excellent idea.
Be sure to do this activity in an open space where no one will get hurt and nothing will get broken.
Once you’ve taken care of the safety issues, the idea is to let your child use the hammer to smash the pumpkin to tiny bits.
This activity is highly motivating for many kids. After all, how often do we invite them to destroy things?
More Halloween resources
More Halloween posts from Gift of Curiosity:
- Magic melting pumpkins
- Mason jar jack-o-lantern
- Candy experiments
- Halloween Montessori activities
- Toilet paper mummies
- Pumpkin decomposition experiment
- Describe a pumpkin using all five senses
- Jack-o-lantern Printables Pack
You can find more Halloween activities and printables on my Halloween Activities for Kids page and Halloween Activities for Kids Pinterest board.
Isn’t smashing a pumpkin with a hammer a gross motor activity as opposed to a fine motor activity?
Yes, I suppose you are right that it would be more accurately considered a gross motor activity than a fine motor activity. There certainly is an element of fine motor control needed, but there is also a large gross motor element as well.
I have my kids hammer golf tees in the pumpkins and then they place small round stickers on each golf tee.