How to Carve Jack-o’-Lantern Safely With Kids
Welcome ghouls and ghosts, to the Power Your Fun monthly blog! After its 11-month slumber, October is back from the grave, and you know what that means: costumes, buckets of candy, and of course, pumpkin carving!
A staple Halloween tradition, pumpkin carving involves the cutting/shaping of eerie, kooky and/or spooky faces to create what’s known as jack-o’-lanterns. It’s a hobby that requires sharp tools, patience, and precision, which is why it typically isn’t suited for children. However, with some preventative steps and ample monitoring, you can accommodate your young ones to make the experience safe and exciting! How do you go about doing this? Read on to find out!
Pumpkin Carving Precautions
Before we begin laying down the steps for a safe pumpkin carving session, we have a few disclaimers:
- Pumpkin carving is generally intended for kids 9-12 years or older, as they are more precise and can follow instructions better.
- However, unless very experienced, 9–12-year-olds should still use safe age-appropriate pumpkin carving tools.
- Younger kids should never touch any carving tool. Instead, give them a small pumpkin to paint while you prep. When it’s their time to carve, give them a melon baller/scoop for the job. Details below.
- Keep your sharp tools away in a safe container to prevent any accidents. Large bowls, baking dishes or rimmed sheet trays work great for this.
- Finally, don’t remove the top/stem or the pumpkin’s innards; wait until the pumpkin design has been carved. This prevents you and your kids from sticking any hands inside the pumpkin while carving.
Choosing the Right Pumpkin
Now that you know the don’ts of carving, let’s learn the dos of picking your kid’s pumpkin!
- Smoother pumpkins work best: A smooth surface will ease their job of designing and carving a jack-o’-lantern. Remember, you’re dealing with kids here, so the easier it is for them, the better!
- Flat surfaces are ideal: A flatter pumpkin surface eases planning/carving any design.
- Avoid pumpkins with soft spots: This often means that that area is rotting.
Now that you have a healthy pumpkin in your hands, it’s time to carve! Here are the steps you should take to make the experience safe and fun for your kids:
- First, pick a stencil that your kids like, print it, and lay it flat on the pumpkin’s surface. Tape it to the surface. The stencil should be simple and easy to follow; you can buy or download pumpkin stencil/templates online.
- Trace the stencil using a pin or the tip of a knife. Gently poke through the taped stencil and draw the pattern with each cut.
- When the pattern is finished, highlight it further by using a carving tool. This is important, as it makes the pattern’s corners more visible for kids.
- When the design is easily visible, pass the pumpkin to your kid, and hand them a melon baller/scoop. Instruct them to carve out the pumpkin’s skin following the pattern you carved.
- If the skin is too hard, sit next to your kids, grab the scoop, and teach them how to do it. This will prepare them for next year!
- Once the pattern is carved in, you can start removing the pumpkin’s stem/top and guts. This and the rest of the process should be done by an adult and/or by older children under close supervision.
And that is it! Follow these steps to the letter and you and your kids will be having fun in no time. Have fun carving, and if you can, post your carved jack-o’-lanterns below in the comments!