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For most kids, and some adults, the best part of October may be eating tons of candy on Halloween. However, there’s another part of the season some children can enjoy – decorating a pumpkin! Here are five benefits to carving or decorating a pumpkin this fall, according to Sunshine House Early Learning Academy.

It’s a great opportunity for sensory learning.

Picking out a pumpkin can be a great learning opportunity, especially for younger children. Bring your children to the store and let them choose a pumpkin! Compare pumpkins, ask your children about differences in texture, size and more. Will they choose a wide, bumpy pumpkin, or a bright orange, tiny pumpkin?

Creating a pumpkin design encourages critical thinking skills.

Before your child carves their chosen pumpkin, they have to have a game plan! Although your children may want to jump straight into carving, encourage them to think ahead and draw a design first. Even if your children want simple faces for their pumpkins, having them draw a design first will allow them to think critically about how they will approach their art.

Scooping out the inside of the pumpkin is a fun, sensory experience.

Your children may have eaten pumpkin pie, but have they seen a pumpkin’s goopy insides? Separating the pumpkin seeds from the pumpkin guts can be a fun sensory experience for many children, especially those who like slime. After baking the separated pumpkin seeds, your children can also enjoy a yummy treat.

Carving develops fine motor skills.

The carving process can be difficult for many children. Depending on the age of your child, you should guide their carving hand with your hand. This will allow them to develop those fine motor skills in a safe manner.

Displaying the pumpkin makes your child feel valued.

Proudly displaying your children’s finished pumpkin creation lets them know you value their creativity and work, and therefore value them. Your children will appreciate the pumpkin being displayed prominently where all the neighbors can view them!

You can paint a pumpkin at your LifeSpan Center on Monday, Oct. 22 from 1– 3 p.m.. Please reserve your spot by calling your LifeSpan Center at 217-639-5150 by Friday, Oct. 19. We will be painting small pumpkins that you can take home and there will be some fall ceramics to paint.

Need a ride? Contact Dial-A-Ride Public Transportation Program at 217-639-5169.

The LifeSpan Center is located at 11021 E. County Road 800N, Charleston. The telephone number is 217-639-5150. Come join us each weekday at noon for “Lunch at LifeSpan.”

Peace Meals, sponsored by Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center, are served Monday through Friday at a suggested donation of $3.50. To register, reserve a lunch or learn more, call 217-345-1800.

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