Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman is a fantastic Halloween book! (In fact, it just might be my favorite!) It’s written in a pattern style with consecutive characters (a witch, a ghost, a vampire, and a mummy) each larger than the first, approaching the same problem – a giant pumpkin, stuck on the vine- in the same way. There is repetitive text and a definite pattern, which preschoolers really respond to, and which also builds pre-literacy skills. In the end, it is not the larger characters, but a tiny bat who, through cooperation, comes up with a solution. A great social skills lesson!
Most recently, after reading this story, I talked with the children about what they love to do with pumpkins. The characters in this story wanted pumpkin pie, and having read The Runaway Pumpkin a few days earlier, the children had several other food suggestions for pumpkins. (Making a pie would be a great extension!) I mentioned that I love to use pumpkins to make Jack-o-lanterns. The children heartily agreed and we did this pumpkin face activity as our extension, building creative skills and math skills.
You could also do the pumpkin sink or float afterward, paying particular attention to the different sizes of the pumpkins as this story is about one BIG pumpkin. You may also make a point of trying to get several children to move your big pumpkin on the ground and then while floating and talk about the difference. This incorporates great science skills.
With the bat as the hero in this story, you may also opt to do a bat activity. Here is a bat outline you can use to cut bats out of construction paper, use a hole-puncher around the edges and have the children do a lacing activity using string or yarn. (Roll the ends with masking tape to make them firm enough to push through the holes, or use these great child-friendly needles.) Lacing or sewing is great for building small motor skills!
You could also use the bat outline to do a black collage. Provide the bat outline, collage glue, and a variety of black items (black beans, ripped paper, feathers, fabric, black colored salt, etc.). You can even go on a black scavenger hunt through your collage collection or through your home to give the children the opportunity to find the color themselves. Have the children create a black bat collage, and talk with them about the different black items and their different textures. A great sensory, language, and creative activity!
For group social skills you could even play this pumpkin game as an extension activity. It’s simple, but a sure-fire preschooler pleaser.
So I’ve given you a variety of extension activity ideas here, partly because I’m a bit indecisive and couldn’t pick just one, and partly because I want you to see that a literacy extension activity does not always have to be an art or craft project. You can choose from a variety of activities, based on the developmental opportunities you want to give your children. So now that you have eleventy-nine activities to choose from, go read Big Pumpkin and have a blast with those kiddos you love and teach!
For more favorite fall activities, click here!