Then, the kids helped me put the stems onto an old tomato cage turned upside-down. We didn't put these in any order. It was a very difficult task for my 2-year-old and he spent a lot of time just practicing opening and closing the clothespin and having me put my hand of his so I could help him open it. My 3 and 4-year old were able to get theirs on with just a bit of instruction and the kids had a blast taking them on and off for awhile.
And then he discovered that he could drop the pumpkins through the wire and they would float to the ground. So, while the kids were strengthening their hand muscles with the clothespins and working on letter recognition, my toddler was exploring spacial reasoning (what will fit through the wires) and cause & effect (if I push it through, it will fall in a pile on the bottom). He was quite happy with his invented game!
Once the kids tired of matching and hanging pumpkins, they began moving them around the yard in their pretend play. They went through the "field" selecting the perfect pumpkins. Then, they pretended to weigh them and measure them like they did at the Pumpkin Patch. They also recreated hayrides and told stories about their trips to the Pumpkin Patch with their families - all the while developing language skills and social skills by taking turns and sharing.
So, while I only intended to work on literacy skills, the kids were learning so much more through their play. Don't you just love it when that happens?!
If you're looking for more ways to learn with your toddlers and preschoolers, I hope you'll check out our Kid Crafts page for lots of thematic ideas. You can keep up with all our favorites activities, along with all our own learning fun by following us on our NEW Facebook or Pinterest pages or signing up for emails!