Pumpkin playdough decorating in preschool

This is a very easy idea that I set out for my class this week in our play dough center…

I set out two large, real pumpkins and several small pumpkin (gourds) and some play dough.  The children used the play dough to decorate the pumpkins…

At first, the children didn’t quite get the idea of what to do when they came to the table. So I sat down with a few of the children and demonstrated how you can make play dough shapes and press them against the pumpkin to make them stick…

By the second day of having this center set up, the children rocked at making all kinds of pumpkin faces and other features like hats. The pumpkins progressively got more and more 3 dimensional in playdough design work…

Some children spent lots of time at this center exploring the play dough and creating on the pumpkin.  I set out a small can of green, yellow, and red play dough but by day two – most of the playdough is either brown or green. The children do not care that it is green and brown – they just keep on creating…

An interesting observation was that the younger children tended to like decorating the small pumpkins. They just wanted to cover the pumpkin with as much playdough as they could.  The fours preferred the big pumpkins and quickly advanced in their creative ideas and approach…

I wasn’t sure if the playdough would stick to the pumpkins all that well but it seems that the more the children played with the dough and pumpkins, the better the dough would stick…

Here is the playdough center all set up before the children went to work decorating pumpkins…

Links to Grow On…

No-Carve Pumpkin by Tinkerlab

Pumpkin Cups by Teach Preschool

Pumpkin Suncatcher by Happy Hooligans

Paper Pumpkins by Come Together Kids

By |2011-10-13T06:00:20+00:00October 13th, 2011|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Candace October 13, 2011 at 7:39 am - Reply

    This is great! You are certainly making it easy for me to plan activities for the classroom, THANK YOU 😀

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 13, 2011 at 11:03 pm - Reply

      Yay! Glad I can help:)

  2. Sandy October 13, 2011 at 7:58 am - Reply

    I love this! I can’t wait until my girls are home from school so we can do it too!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 13, 2011 at 11:03 pm - Reply

      I hope they enjoy it too Sandy!

  3. Esther October 13, 2011 at 7:58 am - Reply

    This is so cool! I don’t like glittery pumpkin decoration. This is a wonderful substitute!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 13, 2011 at 11:04 pm - Reply

      And not quite as messy as glitter:)

  4. Amber October 13, 2011 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Thanks for the reminder! I didn’t even think about this, this year…been quite awhile, actually, since they normally are asking for Mr. Potato Head pieces for their pumpkin. 🙂

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 13, 2011 at 11:04 pm - Reply

      I haven’t tried Potato Head pieces on a pumpkin:) I will have to give that a try too:)

  5. kristin @preschool daze October 13, 2011 at 10:11 am - Reply

    this is one of those activities that i slap my head and say, “of course!”

    i’ll add this to my list of things to do. : )

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 13, 2011 at 11:05 pm - Reply

      Haha – I do that more than I care to tell you about Kristin:)

  6. andiejaye October 13, 2011 at 12:14 pm - Reply

    isn’t play-doh an amazing invention! we just used it the other day as a glue of sorts… i love that this allows the kiddos so many opportunities!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 13, 2011 at 11:05 pm - Reply

      It is an amazing invention!!

  7. Toddler Approved October 13, 2011 at 4:00 pm - Reply

    Such a fun idea! I am all about the “no-carve” pumpkin decorating. I’m adding this to our activity list and sharing it on our Facebook page right now.


    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 13, 2011 at 11:06 pm - Reply

      Thank you for sharing:) So sweet!!

  8. Andrea October 13, 2011 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    I love it – I think I like it even better than using Mr. Potato Head parts to decorate the pumpkins. This way the kids can really manipulate the dough and use their creativity!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 13, 2011 at 10:47 pm - Reply

      I haven’t tried Mr. Potato Head parts but I bet my students would love that too.

  9. Little Wonders' Days October 14, 2011 at 9:37 am - Reply

    How cute. We’ll be visiting a pumpkin patch soon. I’ll have to let the kids try this idea.

  10. Terri October 14, 2011 at 10:10 am - Reply

    This is such a great idea! I know my girls would have a blast (especially with the tiny pumpkins).

  11. Preschool fan in Needham October 14, 2011 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    I am completely in love with this idea for preschool kids! My sister is a preschool teacher so I’ll have to give her this idea for a fall activity. It is definitely a good replacement for actually going out into a pumpkin patch 🙂

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 14, 2011 at 9:13 pm - Reply

      So glad you will share with your sister!

  12. [email protected] October 17, 2011 at 1:17 am - Reply

    I have never thought to decorate pumpkins with play dough! My kids will love this!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 17, 2011 at 8:48 am - Reply

      Thanks for stopping by and be sure to give it a try!

  13. Rachelle | TinkerLab October 31, 2011 at 1:48 am - Reply

    I love how the faces can change so quickly and easily, unlike a carved pumpkin that is what it is. And thanks so much for linking to us Deborah.

  14. […] Decorate your pumpkin with playdough faces (on Teach Preschool) […]

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