How to use a Pumpkin to Strengthen Fine Motor Muscles

My own children were too busy this year and didn’t have time to carve their pumpkins in time for Halloween.   I decided to bring them into my classroom and try and activity that I have seen on Pinterest…hammering golf tees into pumpkins.

I’ve always wanted to bring this activity into the classroom, but I never did.  What stopped me was the mere fact that I didn’t have any wooden hammers the kids could use.  I really wish that little detail hadn’t stopped me in previous years, because this activity was a huge hit! And we didn’t even use wooden hammers!  I decided to improvise and have them use a wooden block from our block center.  Who would have thought it would be just as good and the children wouldn’t care they weren’t hammers?

The children hammered the golf tees into the pumpkins until there were none left, then we (they needed help with this part) would take all the golf tees out again and start all over.  They did this for 3 days straight!  And I’m sure they would have kept going with it for many more, however the pumpkins weren’t looking good by day 4.

I love this activity because it helps preschool children strengthen their little muscles in their hand.  Developing these muscles are important because it allows children to:

  • learn to use tools like crayons, chalk, pencils, and scissors.  
  • learn and develop handwriting and drawing skills.
  • become more independent and understand how their bodies work. They can brush their own teeth, wipe their own bottoms, put on their clothes.   They can also figure out they need to turn their hands a certain way to cut a circle out of paper.
  • have more confidence and self-esteem.

This activity also helps preschool children with:

  • concentration & focus
  • eye-hand coordination
  • bilateral coordination is the ability to coordinate both sides of the body at the same time in a controlled and organized manner.  With this activity they need to hold the golf tee using their pincer grasp, while holding the block and hammering with the other hand.
  • pincer grasp -holding the golf tee between the thumb and index finger.
  • persistence

If you want ideas for other fine motor activities we’ve done please check out:
Golf Tees and Marbles
-Stringing Cheerios on Spaghetti
-Bracelet Bead Store
-Paper Plate Spider Web

Materials:

-Pumpkins
-Golf Tees
-Wood Blocks
-Rubber bands (optional)

Instructions:

Gather all the supplies.

Here, I set it up in an inviting way on the classroom table.  I didn’t include the rubber bands at first.  I wanted to see how they would do with hammering the golf tees into the pumpkins.  Once they hammered most of the golf tees into the pumpkins, I offered the rubber bands and told the kids they could use it as a geo-board.

Here is the first golf tee being hammered into the pumpkin.  Notice the strength they need in their hand muscles to do this activity.  This is such a great way to exercise those muscles!

They children loved hammering!

Here a child is adding a rubber band to the golf tees.  The way the child has to maneuver the rubber bands and stretch it across one to to the next also uses their fine motor skills.

This activity also allows the children to explore math, as they can make geometric shapes with the rubber bands.

As for cleaning up, we had the children help us remove the golf tees.  However, some of the golf tees were in the pumpkin pretty snug and no matter how much I tried removing them, they wouldn’t budge.  I then decided to get a real hammer and remove the tees using the same way I would remove a nail from a wall.  This made removing the tees much easier and faster. I then rinsed the golf tees and patted them dry, as they had some pumpkin juice on them.  That way we could reuse the golf tees again for other fine motor exercises like the one we did with marbles.

If you want ideas for other fine motor activities we’ve done please check out:
Golf Tees and Marbles
-Stringing Cheerios on Spaghetti
-Bracelet Bead Store
-Paper Plate Spider Web