Autumn has always been a favorite time at our house. I love the familiar smell of pumpkin spices and the promise of warming soups and cozy sweaters. The sound of cool, crisp air rustling the trees outside conjures up a festival of bright-orange and yellow gourds for carving and coloring. We bundle ourselves up and head over to our favorite pumpkin-picking place.
This year — much to our children’s delight — we created a few jack-o’-lanterns based on their favorite PBS KIDS
characters using free templates! Here’s what we did (plus a few helpful tips):
Pick your pumpkins early in the season for best selection, but hold off on carving until a week or two before Halloween if you want a jack-o’-lantern for trick-or-treating festivities. Little gourds are great for little hands and easy pumpkin crafts. For perfect jack-o’-lanterns, look for larger pumpkins with semi-flat surfaces and a stable bottom. Make sure the stem is thick and strong and the pumpkin is free of soft spots.
When you’re ready to decorate and carve your pumpkin, assemble your supplies:
- Printed PBS KIDS character templates
- Tarp, newspaper or garbage bag
- Multi-purpose cleaner or bleach-water solution and paper towels
- Sturdy ice cream scoop
- Stickers, washable markers and toothpicks (to keep delicate designs together)
- Masking or painter’s tape
- Bowl for pumpkin guts (and to save seeds, if desired)
- Pumpkin-carving knives (keep an extra set on hand as they tend to bend and break easily)
- Battery-operated candles
Lay out a tarp, newspaper or a garbage bag on your work surface of choice. Spray the outside of the pumpkin with a multi-purpose cleaner and wipe it clean. A bleach-water solution (1 quart water + 1 tbsp. bleach) would also work. This helps to kill mold spores and extend the life of your pumpkin creation.
Cut off the top or bottom of the pumpkin and scoop out the guts. We have found that a sturdy ice cream scoop works well. Once the pumpkin is clean and dry, free draw your design with a washable marker, or tape down your printed PBS KIDS character template with masking or painters tape.
Find templates for Daniel Tiger
, Peg + Cat
, Curious George
, Super WHY
and more here
Turn little kids loose with stickers, washable markers and their reusable pumpkin canvases. Just wipe the pumpkins off and color again or have them color their favorite PBS KIDS character stencil.
To be safe, adults should carve out the templates on the pumpkins. Take your time as you etch out the template. The paper will slide around a bit. We used a small, sharp paring knife to puncture the skin and followed up with the jagged carving knife to fine-tune the design.
Light your pumpkins. Glow sticks or battery-operated candles are a safer alternative to open-flame candles.
Carving a PBS KIDS pumpkin? Share your creations with us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Be sure to tag @KCTS9.