4 Reasons to Take Your Son or Daughter to an Autumn Pumpkin Patch
I don't know about you, but I've always loved Autumn. For as long as I can remember, it's been my favorite season, with Halloween being the highlight of my year. While some kids looked forward to Christmas, I was eager for Halloween, dressing up, going from door to door to get candy from the neighbors, and then watching it disappear when my father nabbed it all in the middle of the night while I was sleeping. Even now that I'm an adult, I love the autumn time, when I'm more creative, relaxed, and generally happy. This is a special time of year for me, and this year I want to make it special for my daughter, as well.
One way to make a great autumn for your child(ren) is to take them to the pumpkin patch. County fairs aside, this used to be the highlight of the season for me, and my daughter loves to go to pick out pumpkins with the family and take them home for carving. But the Pumpkin Patch itself can be an experience without the addition of taking the pumpkin home to carve it, so I've provided you with some reasons to take your son or daughter to the pumpkin patch (along with tons and tons of beautiful pumpkin patch pictures for you to enjoy!).
Reason 1: The Pumpkin Patch is Fun for Kids
Do you remember being a child and pulling up at the pumpkin patch? It was a sea of orange, all laid out right there for the picking. So many pumpkins to choose from, with a path winding through them so that you could lose yourself among them if you weren't careful. Your mother or father (whichever took you to the pumpkin patch) helped you to pick out the biggest and grandest pumpkin and to make sure that it wasn't rotting on one side and that it was sturdy enough to hold up under the pressures of being carved by a small person.
It was fun, wasn't it? Almost any activity your child does with you as a parent is fun, but the pumpkin patch was special because it was a once a year event that didn't come at any other time. I don't know about you, but I looked forward to it all year the way that I anticipated carnivals, or the county fair, or Halloween.
Think about the eagerness of finding the best pumpkin to take home and to carve and put out on the front step for all your friends to see. Wasn't that a fun time of year for you? Make it fun for your child this Autumn by taking him or her to the pumpkin patch with you. You'll have a great time, and the whole family can participate in picking out the best pumpkins.
Real or artificial carving pumpkin?
Real Vs. "Fake" Pumpkins
These days, the craft stores (and Amazon! See below) provide an option for artificial carvable pumpkins. The artificial variety can be carved with less mess and less hassle, and some people appreciate not filling their space up with all the pumpkin "innards." While you obviously have the choice to cook the seeds, the pulp of a carving pumpkin has no value at all. If you're one of those people who prefers a quick and easy cleanup, an artificial pumpkin might be the right choice for you (again, see below).
Even if this is the case, don't deny your children the opportunity to visit the pumpkin patch. It's worth the memories that you can make, and you can always put the whole pumpkins out on your porch, even if you choose not to light them. Remember, you're going to the pumpkin patch to have fun, not just to pick out a pumpkin to light on Halloween!
You can carve an artificial pumpkin to light for Halloween in lieu of carving a real pumpkin from the pumpkin patch, but your child will miss out on all the fun of the pumpkin patch!
Reason 2: You Can Teach About Gourds
The pumpkin patch is a good opportunity for you and your child to share some time learning something new. Pumpkins are a type of squash, and this gives you an opportunity to share information about Squashes and Gourds with your child. Even if you aren't home schooling, you can take charge of your child's education and teach some biology right there in the patch with your little boy or little girl! It's an excellent opportunity for sharing and for learning together.
You should also think about teaching your child about the different types of pumpkin and which ones are used for pies versus which ones are better for carving. Aside from the biology, there may be a culinary lesson here to teach as well, so use it to get your child talking and curious about the world around him or her!
Pumpkin Picking Festivals
Pumpkin Patch time often comes with Pumpkin Picking Festivals, such as the one shown in the video above. These can be particularly fun for your child because of the activities and games they can participate in. Often, fall activities come together at these types of festivals, allowing your child to participate in a wide range of fun for the whole family!
These are a good option for those who have chosen not to celebrate Halloween for any reason (religious or other) because it means that your child can enjoy the fall festivals without having to participate in a holiday you don't believe in. You may be interested in reading on the background of Halloween (coming soon) and its pagan origins.
Pumpkins at the pumpkin patch are for carving, not for eating.
Reason 3: Pick a Pumpkin for Carving!
One of the best reasons to go to the pumpkin patch is to pick a pumpkin to carve with your child(ren). This is one of the things that makes the Halloween season the most fun for kids, and choosing a pumpkin will help to make them feel involved. You'll find the biggest and best pumpkins at the patch (instead of at a grocery or discount store) and you can help your child pick one that is suitable for the space that you're going to be filling. It may cost a bit more than if you went to Wal*Mart (or another discount grocer) but you'll find that you have a lot of fun and get a better quality pumpkin this way.
The pumpkins at the pumpkin picking patches aren't intended to be eaten, and therefore they are best for carving. This is a good opportunity for you to help your child to feel involved with the Halloween festivities!
Choosing the Best Pumpkin for Carving
Your visit to the pumpkin patch won't be complete if you don't bring home a good carving pumpkin to carve with your child(ren). There are some tricks to choosing the best pumpkin to carve, however. Please see the video above, in addition to the following tips.
- Your pumpkin should be flat on the bottom, so that it sits evenly. A pumpkin is apt to be flatter on the side it lay on as it grew, so if it didn't lay on its bottom, it may not have a flat bottom. Check to make sure that it sits stably before purchasing your pumpkin.
- Your pumpkin should be round in shape. The best carving pumpkins are round or ovular and high. Make sure that it has a good shape to take the carving, in particular if you're hoping to do a more complex design.
- Your pumpkin should be reasonably free of blemishes. Even at night when lit, the blemishes can show up on the pumpkin. Look for one that has a nice, smooth skin for carving, or you may be unsatisfied with the marred results of a scarred pumpkin.
- Your pumpkin should have a long stem. A long stem will act as a handle to put the 'lid' back on your pumpkin, making it significantly easier to work with. Some pumpkins will have stems that have broken off. Avoid these if you can to make your experience more enjoyable.
Reason 4: You'll Make Memories
I know you remember going to the pumpkin patch as a kid. It was fun, wasn't it? And I also know that almost everybody I know loves to look at autumn photographs, the sweaters, the beginning of the bulky coats, the pumpkins and those gorgeous fall colors. You can almost smell the apples in the air when you look at those sorts of photos, can't you?
The pumpkin patch is a great opportunity to take photos of and with your children, and I highly recommend taking a good camera with you. I've shown the camera that I personally own to the right. I've gotten quite a bit of use out of this camera and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys photography, both beginners and more experienced photographers alike. Canon is far and away my preferred brand of camera, and I think that you'll like it too.
Share Your Stories!
I'd love to hear your stories of the Pumpkin Patch, so please use the comments below to tell me (and readers!) your favorite pumpkin patch stories. I'm sure that you have some! So fill me up on all those great fall stories. This is, after all, my favorite time of the year. Orange is even my favorite color!