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Talk About Emotions With Painted Pumpkin Rocks

Sep 24, 2015

Didn't grow pumpkins this summer? Neither did we.

We were too late putting our plants in the ground and as a result, no orange babies appeared in our garden this year.

We'll have to take a trip to the farmer's market for our pumpkins. Until we do that, we've filled our home with warm and cozy fall feelings with painted pumpkin rocks. We also turned the pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns for a fun fall way to talk about different emotions. 

You Will Need:

  • assorted round rocks
  • orange, white, yellow and brown acrylic or tempera paint
  • paintbrushes
  • black marker
  • spray varnish (optional)

Instructions:

1. Wash and dry rocks. 

2. Paint rocks orange. We tried both tempera and acrylic paints.

Here's a comparision: tempera-painted rocks on the left and acrylic-painted rocks on the right.

Rocks painted orange with both acrylic and tempera paints.

With one layer of paint, tempera paints provide better coverage, but the paint peels off more easily and will need a layer of spray varnish on top if you want to save them for a while.

Acrylic paint adheres to the rock surface better and the rocks don't need additional varnishing.


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Acrylics naturally dry to a sheen, while tempera paints dry matte. On the other hand, tempera paints are washable and acrylic paints are not!

My son had a terrific time painting with tempera paints.

Rocks painted with orange, yellow and white paint.

I don't advise painting with acrylics this way (using hands as well as brushes!). Acrylic paint must be wiped off right away, because removing the paint after it dries requires lots of scrubbing!

Still, my personal preference for this activity is acrylic paint.

3. Use watered-down brown paint to create stripes that suggest the ribbed pumpkin form. This kind of pumpkin looks great in our little fall sensory bin.

Striped pumpkin rocks among leaves and maple keys.

4. Having spotted his first jack-o-lanterns this year, my son was very intrigued by this use of a pumpkin. Armed with a marker, he created his own from a couple of our rock pumpkins. I made some too. 

I used the jack-o-lanterns as an opportunity to talk with my son about emotions. He's at the age where he's starting to describe his feelings and trying to interpret how others feel. I made a happy face, a sad face, a surprised face, a frightened face, an angry face and a dubious face.

Painted pumpkin rocks with different emotions on their faces.

My son's reaction revealed the essential comedy/tragedy reality of a three-year-old's life. He divided them into two groups—those referred to with tender sympathy as “poor things,” and the “funny things” that made him laugh. I love how our pumpkins have some personality!

Regardless of their expressions (or if they have them at all), little pumpkins in our house make us happy and filled with anticipation of endless autumn festivities.

So, if you think that real pumpkins are best made into pies, grab your paints and rock on!

Article Author Liska Myers
Liska Myers

When not constructing lego towers and measuring the depth of puddles with her son, Liska likes to work on toys for him. Her blog Adventure in a Box is a collection of ideas on how to fill a playroom with unique homemade toys: build a fairy tree house, cut shadow puppets, give a makeover to old wooden blocks and so on. Liska also enjoys reading, painting, and exploring outdoors. You can follow her family's life and adventures on her blog, Facebook and Instagram.

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