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Pumpkin Decorating Program

One of the fun programs my new library has put on for a number of years is a pumpkin decorating program. I can take absolutely no credit for the idea or execution of this program. My co-workers even set the room up for me the day before the program (THANK YOU!).

This program is a great way to use any random leftover craft supplies that you have hiding in the crevices of your storage areas. Even if you can't think of a way to use something weird rest assured that the kids definitely will. Some of the odds and ends we put out (spread out over 4 supply tables in the back):

  • Plastic drinking straws
  • Plastic bottle caps
  • Tinsel
  • Foam stickers
  • Pipe cleaners/Chenille stems
  • Rectangles of felt and foam
  • Plastic spider rings
  • Fake spider web
  • Left over die-cuts from other craft programs
  • Silk leaves
  • Googly eyes
  • Feathers
  • Different colored paper and paper strips
  • Sequins
  • Buttons
  • Pom-Poms
  • Crepe paper strips
  • Tissue paper squares
  • Yarn
  • Shredded newspaper
The kids were given paper plates to assist in carrying their chosen supplies back to their seats. Their pumpkins set on paper plates for stability and easy transport. On the tables were supplies for them to share with their tablemates (scissors, glue sticks, glitter glue, glue dots, dot markers, etc.) The kids had an hour to decorate. At my first library system, we did pumpkin carving programs, and this decorating program is a lot less clean up! I just had to break everything down and run the vacuum quickly versus spending hours cleaning pumpkin guts off the carpet. 

General setup notes: 
  • Pumpkins were purchased in a large quantity (several hundred) for all of our branches from one farm in our county (I work for a county library system). One of our maintenance staffers picked up and delivered these pie-sized pumpkins to all 4 branches on the same day. Staffers at each branch were responsible for unloading and cleaning the pumpkins that day and storing them until the day of their branch's program. 
  • My branch's program was this past Saturday. We are the biggest branch, so we held three programs with a registration cap of 30. The times offered were 11:30, 1:30, and 3:00. Very few people signed up for the last program so we may not do three times in 2014. If that's the way we go, I will put a longer break between the two programs since it was difficult to get the room set up again and fit lunch breaks in there. 
  • You will want 2 people for this program, if you run it as a decorating contest like my branch* does. I did it with one of our esteemed volunteers. Basically I stayed in the room and she used a book cart to deliver the finished pumpkins to the judging area. She also helped me clean up at the end, thank goodness.  
This program was a lot of fun! I am always amazed at what the kids can create when you give them the raw materials and get out of the way. Our Lego programs are another example of this. 

*At my branch, this program is actually run as a contest, but our other 3 branches just do a decorating program. The contest portion gets really complicated so please forgive me for not blogging about how that all works in detail. :) I will say that we have 3 different grade levels and the winner of each level gets a $10 gift card. The public votes to pick a winner. Where the system gets complicated is in keeping track of the entrants while not making their names and contact information known to the voters.  


  1. We did pumpkin painting at my library last year and the kids loved it! My library is very small, so we had more pumpkins than kids and they all asked to do a second one. They were very creative.

  2. I am so going to have to do this next Halloween. I've done actual pumpkin carving programs and as you said, so messy! You're cleaning up pumpkin seeds for another hour. This seems a bit more child friendly too, without any carving/knife issues. Thank you for sharing the how-tos!

  3. I've done pumpkin painting for a couple years - we use mini pumpkins - and last year was the final straw. Parents totally ignored my instructions and took extra pumpkins, late arrivals were furious that there were no pumpkins for them and made their wrath known, the pumpkins themselves were slighty moldy, since I had to buy them in advance and the area I stored them in turned out to be too humid and small pumpkins+paint+small children=painted-covered pumpkins rolling across the floor. It was TOO MUCH. This year we're just doing monster boxes and we will never be painting pumpkins again.

    Hmmm. I may still be a little upset about this (-:)


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