Get ready to prep one of the easiest fall activities: clean the pumpkins. With just a bin of water, some bubbles, and a few pumpkins, you’ve created one of the most memorable fall set-ups for your children. Clean the pumpkins is must-do.
What is “clean the pumpkins” exactly?
Clean the pumpkin is a sensory plus fall themed activity where kids have a chance to wash the pumpkins they’ve just brought home from the pumpkin patch or grocery story.
For my family, we have a slight obsession with washing activities so “clean the pumpkins” is a no-brainer.
We have cleaned:
This list is not an exaggeration. My kids LOVE activities where they clean so of course they we DTWP (down to wash pumpkins).
RELATED: Looking for more Fall activities for kids? Check out my fantastic list.
Why are cleaning and washing activities so good for kids?
There’s a few reasons why kids enjoy this style of activity so much. There’s instant gratification, the thrill of having a job, and the excitement of being successful at something.
Plus, it’s shockingly fun to give a pumpkin a bubble bath.
And kids are learning/growing so much with an activity like this. This activity is rich with:
- Motor skills development
- Hand-eye coordination
- Independent play skills
- Life skills
- Imaginary play
- Sensory exploration
Yes, it’s a pumpkin bath. But it’s so much more than just that.
RELATED: Struggling to figure out what to do on Fall days? Download my FREE Fall Activities Bucket List.
The Supply List
- 41 qt storage container
- Tear free bubble bath or body wash
Note: I like this longer size sensory bin for big activities or ones with multiple kids. I call it a “two butt bin.” My more typically used bin is 28 quarts but please: use anything you have (including a bath tub) that may work
Second note: Make sure to use tear free bubble bath or body wash. Yes, dish soap will work but it’s not fun when it gets in little eyes (trust me).
How to set-up the activity
Clean the pumpkins is as basic and simple as it gets:
Place a container on the floor, add in soap and water, and set in some pumpkins. THAT’S IT.
I tossed in some scrubby brushes, sponges, and towels to help with the cleaning, but this activity is as open ended as it gets…
And kids tend to get hooked fast and run with this idea. My best tip: have a lot of pumpkins on hand (I kid…or not).
Tips for making clean the pumpkins manageable
- Set the sensory bin on a big beach towel. This defines the space and makes indoor splashes less intense
- Take this to the bathtub. It may not work for your family to wash pumpkins like this: try the tub instead.
- Head for the backyard. If you live where fall backyard play is still an option, washing the pumpkins outside is fantastic (I’m also very jealous).
- Set boundaries: activities with water need boundaries. Make sure your kids know where the water CAN go, where the water should STAY, and enforce that. Read more about my sensory bin management tips in this post.
How long will kids play with this?
Depends on the kids.
Mine are 2.5 and 4 here. They sat for 20+minutes cleaning their pumpkins and I was able to get so much stuff done around the house – the really fun stuff like unloading the dishwasher and restarting the laundry for the 3rd time…
But what’s more important: my kids ask for this activity every year. The first year was 2015. I’m updating this post in 2022 and letting you know that at 9, 7, and 5 they’ve already asked when they get to wash their pumpkins.
Use this activity to begin learning about pumpkins
I use this activity each fall season to introduce, review, learn or expand on our knowledge of pumpkins.
Using clean the pumpkins, my kids have an up-close experience with them that they otherwise don’t have (kids pick a pumpkin, it sits out front, and that’s it). This activity provides opportunities to investigate and learn.
Pumpkin-themed books to pair with clean the pumpkins
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- Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell
- Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell
- Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin, Pie by Jill Esbaum
Remember: it’s not just about cleaning the pumpkins… there’s more to it.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, actually the opposite. Your kids are actually cleaning off all the extra mud and junk from the farm: it’s good to get them clean. Dry them well at the end.
Yes – so use a big beach towel under your kids and good judgement about your floors. My floors are fine to get wet but yours might not be.
Remember: this stages not ages. Age doesn’t define when a child will like an activity OR if they’ll be success. Interest level and development do. Think about your child and what they enjoy, and consider their developmental level too. For the record, my kids were at or a little under age 2 when they first started “washing activities.”