Pumpkin Activities for Children Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired!

Maria Dibernardo

We’re delighted to have a guest blog post today from Maria Dibernardo.

Maria writes, “Hi, my name is Maria. I am the proud mom of my 16-year-old daughter, Jewels, who is totally blind from ROP (retinopathy of prematurity) as she was born at only 23 weeks of gestation. Here are some messy activities that we used to do when she was younger and enjoy sharing them today. Hope you and your family have fun with them, too. Remember they could be adapted to any age group.”

Carving a Pumpkin

Carving a pumpkin is easy and a great sensory activity. Here are the steps:

  • Using two hands, explore the outside of the pumpkin feeling the shape and the grooves.
  • Tap the pumpkin fast, slow, and lightly. Take turns making a rhythm and trying to follow each other’s rhythm.
  • Make predictions on what is inside.
  • If you are going to carve out a face on your pumpkin, talk about facial features. With a black marker draw 2 triangle eyes, a circle nose, and smile on your pumpkin. If your child is totally blind, you can have him create the shapes he likes with playdoh or wiki stix, and then use those as your guide to cut out the shapes from textured paper and tape them on the pumpkin.
  • Now let’s find out what’s inside. Cut around the stem about 2 inches away from the step. Remember the secret of carving the pumpkin is inserting the knife at an angle.
  • After the top is removed, smell the pumpkin. Okay, now time for the fun part…put your hand inside and explore the inside of the pumpkin. Discuss how it feels.
  • Pull out the guts of the pumpkin and explore them with two hands.
  • Separate the seeds from the guts, putting the seeds in the bowl on the left side and the guts on the right side.
  • Continue cutting out the rest of the pumpkin. After you’ve cut out the shapes for the eyes and the nose and the mouth, make a puzzle and try to put them back in the right spot in the pumpkin.
classic jack-o-lantern with triangle eyes and nose, and wide smile

For a yummy treat, take this activity one step further. Salt the pumpkin seeds, place them on a baking sheet, and bake until golden brown…yum!

Make No-Cook Pumpkin Pies

This is still one of my favorite fun fall activities. Here’s what you need:

  • Two boxes of vanilla instant pudding
  • One 15-ounce can of pumpkin
  • Graham crackers
  • Whipped cream
  • A cleaned, large, empty, preferably plastic coffee container
  • Ziploc bag

Open the boxes of vanilla pudding with your child. Smell the pudding powder, lick your finger and put it into the powder and taste it.

Next, pour the pudding powder into the empty coffee container along with the amount of milk needed as per pudding directions. Now the fun part… Shake the container fast then slow, maybe even to a song. Roll the container to each other back-and-forth. Turn the container upside down, Pat the top, tap the bottom and repeat these motions for about 5 to 7 minutes until you feel the pudding thickening. Open up the container and pour about half of the can of pumpkin inside. Put the top back on and shake, shake, shake, roll, roll, roll, tap, tap, tap, until all mixed.

Set that to the side to prepare the graham crackers. Put several graham crackers in a Ziploc bag and seal the bag. Tap the graham crackers in the bag until they are crushed, tap them slow, fast, maybe to a beat. Pour a small amount inside the cup. Open up the coffee container and pour the pumpkin pudding inside the cup on top of the graham crackers. Top it with whip cream and enjoy.

Make Pumpkin Playdough

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2 cups plain flour (all purpose)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • Up to 1 cup warm water (adding in increments until it feels just right)
  • Orange food coloring (optional)
  • Pumpkin spice

Mix the flour, salt, pumpkin spice, cream of tartar and oil in a large mixing bowl

Add food coloring to the warm water, then into the dry ingredients (color optional).

Stir continuously until it becomes a sticky, combined dough.

Take it out of the bowl and knead it vigorously for a couple of minutes until all of the stickiness has gone. This is the most important part of the process, so keep at it until it’s the perfect consistency!

If it remains a little sticky, then add a touch more flour until just right.

Put in a Ziploc bag for storage and have fun over and over again.

Finger-Paint a Tactile Pumpkin Cut-Out

a before-and-after picture of a pumpkin cutout, decorated with finger paint and spices

Read aloud the story from the tactile book “The Littlest Pumpkin” by Suzette Wright; American Printing House for the Blind; Louisville, KY Catalog No. 6-77504-00

Here’s a fun extension activity to do after reading the story. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Card stock
  • Scissors
  • Black marker
  • 1/2 cup of orange finger paint
  • 1/4 cup of school glue
  • Pumpkin spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, or any fall spice scent

Cut out a pumpkin shape from card stock paper (see photo).

Draw lines to show the shape and contour of the pumpkin.

Raise lines by tracing with a hot-glue gun.

Mix orange finger paint with school glue.

Let kids finger-paint the cut-out pumpkin (discuss the shape, the color, the grooves).

Wash hands.

Take pumpkin spice, cinnamon, or nutmeg and sprinkle onto the wet painting for a nice fall scent.

Go on outside to look for large leaves and bring back home to glue large leaf onto the pumpkin picture!

Personalize any of these activities and make them your own and adapt them to the level of ability of your child. Always remember, it’s not the product, it’s the process that makes it fun!