Developing life skills through carving pumpkins
Helping youth develop life skills that can be used when they are adults is the goal of Michigan 4-H. This article will explore how something as simple and fun as carving a pumpkin can help youth develop life skills.
It is that time of year when we see pumpkins in the fields and at farmers’ markets, looking for a young person to take them home and carve them. Pumpkins come in a variety of sizes and so do the people that carve them. No matter the size, the action of carving a pumpkin can help youth develop life skills.
The Michigan 4-H program uses the Targeting Life Skill Wheel to incorporate 35 life skills that youth in 4-H should develop. By engaging youth in their learning and having them participate in hands-on experiences, kids can develop skills that will help them be successful. As adults, we can guide youth in their learning by asking questions and providing youth experiences. These reflective discussion questions have been found crucial in the learning experience, so be sure to discuss these activities with the youth during and after the activity.
Let’s look at three life skills that could be gained from carving a pumpkin.
- Planning and organizing. This life skill is defined as a method of doing something that has been thought out ahead of time. There are lots of options when carving a pumpkin so lots of planning needs to take place. What design is it going to have? What supplies will I need to accomplish the carving? Do I want to decorate it a different way, such as using paints or other objects? To help a youth develop planning ad organizing skills, ask these types of questions before you start the carving process. Provide youth with a piece a paper to draw out their design or idea and ask them to develop the list of supplies they would need to do it.
- Personal safety. This life skill is defined as taking care to avoid danger, risk or harm. When carving pumpkins, sharp objects are used to cut holes in the top and to make faces. Talk with youth about knives and how to handle them properly. You could also use this opportunity to talk about basic first aid and what happens when people are cut with knives.
- Creativity. This life skill is about opening up our mind to create something new or take a risk. Pumpkin carving can be a great way for youth to explore their creative side and think differently about how they want their pumpkin to look. The pumpkin is like a blank canvas that can be used to express how a youth is feeling. Giving youth the time, freedom and support to be creative in their own way will help develop this skill in youth.