Learning to Identify Emotions with Pumpkin Emotion Faces

Pumpkin emotional development activity

This fun Fall activity helps with learning to identify emotions using pumpkin emotion faces! It’s a great emotional development activity for toddlers and preschoolers. Kids love moving the faces on the pumpkins and practicing different facial expressions is a bonus.

Identification of Emotions

Young children often have difficulty expressing their emotions.  Recently my 18 month old son has reverted to hitting, screaming, and throwing things, which is part of typical development.

I was trying to think of a way to help him learn how to express himself in a calmer more acceptable manner and that’s how this pumpkin faces emotions activity came to life.  With all the fall fine motor OT activities and Fall-inspired posts lately, I got to thinking about decorating a pumpkin…

First, let’s break down the identification of emotions aspect. 

This is an important developmental process in toddlers and preschoolers. Emotional intelligence is a skill that needs practice to develop, and is essential for social situations, communicating with others, and self-regulation of emotions and feelings. Identifying emotions is one of the first steps for young children.

There are ways to support emotions identification in preschoolers, toddlers, and older children:

  • Use this social emotional learning worksheet to help kids match emotions to behaviors and coping strategies.
  • Put words to feelings. Do you feel sad? Are you unhappy? You feel mad. I am happy.
  • Point out facial expressions and emotions in books. Picture books are a great way to talk about emotions and see facial expressions in the context of a story.
  • Another fantastic resource that can help develop social and emotional skills is the activity book, Exploring Books Through Play.
pumpkin emotion faces with a paper pumpkin activity

Pumpkin Emotion

You can use pumpkin emotion to create different facial expressions using pumpkins. This is a great way for toddlers and preschoolers to play with facial expressions, practice emotions, and put a word to the emotion.

You’ll need just a few items for this activity:

  • Orange poster board
  • Green paint or green marker
  • Black paper
  • Tape
Paper pumpkin with a happy face
Preschool pumpkin emotion activity, child places paper pieces on a pumpkin to make a smile



Time needed:Β 10 minutes.

How to Make a Pumpkin Emotions Activity for Preschoolers

  1. Cut out a Pumpkin Shape

    Use orange poster board and cut out a large pumpkin shape. Add a few lines with a black marker for more pumpkin details if you like.

  2. Paint the stem green.

    You could use green paint or a green marker. Or, use green paper and glue the green paper over the stem area.

  3. Cut out face pieces from black paper.

    Cut out circle eyes, a triangle nose, and different smiles. You can create angry eyes, surprised eyes, a circle mouth, a frown, a smile, etc.

  4. Add tape to the back of each pumpkin emotions piece.

    Roll the tape into a donut and stick to the back of each facial expression. You could also use sticky tack.

Identifying and Expressing Emotions with pumpkin Faces

 My 4 year old helped cut out the shapes of the eyes, nose, and mouths. The different shapes and the sturdy paper (we used cardstock) makes this a great scissor skills activity for preschoolers.

After the pumpkin emotion pieces were cut out, we started identifying emotions. Happy, sad, angry, etc. We have a great resource on emotional vocabulary that helps to teach preschoolers about identifying emotions.

Then, we talked about the shapes and what those mouths looked like. We talked about positive and not so positive ways to express our feelings. “When I get sad, it is not OK to hit”. 

At the preschool age it is important for her to be able to express her feelings with words and associate them with how her actions make others feel.  Learning about feelings helps with her social emotional development.

Preschool pumpkin emotions activity using a paper pumpkin
Paper pumpkin with facial expressions
Use a cardstock paper to make a pumpkin and facial expressions for a preschool activity

“This one has a mustache!”

Sad pumpkin face for preschoolers

“This guy is sad because his sister took away his toy.”

Paper pumpkin fine motor activity

Toddler Pumpkin Emotion Activity 

This is also a great activity for helping toddlers build emotional development skills. Toddler play is where all of the development happens, and this activity is a powerhouse.

Toddlers can use the activity for several skills:

  • Spatial relations activities
  • Fine motor skills
  • Working on a vertical surface to develop eye-hand coordination, fine motor work, and core strength
  • Social emotional development

We also had fun lining up the shapes. We had a row of triangles, circles, and ovals.

Another great emotions activity for toddlers and preschoolers are our emotions playdough mats to support naming and identifying emotion names and facial expressions to match the emotion name.

Toddler playing with pumpkin face pieces on a refrigerator.

 For little guy we placed the pumpkin on the refrigerator with a magnet and tape on the back of the shapes.  He had a blast making the pumpkin fall down…over…and over…and over again!  

Toddler copying pumpkin facial expressions playing on a fridge with magnet pieces.

  I would help him put a different shape mouth on the pumpkin and mimic the face. He thought I was pretty silly, but I think he started catching on πŸ™‚

Toddler copying a surprised pumpkin face

  Surprised face!  

Toddler placing pumpkin facial expression magnets on a fridge.

  This also helps with learning spatial relations and where a nose, mouth, and eyes belong on a face.  He was trying to put the mouth where the nose goes…he will learn eventually!

Toddler moving pumpkin face pieces to make a smile

  We all know that babies and toddlers have feeling just as we as adults do, they just need a little help trying to figure out what they are feeling!  Hopefully this will help my little guy learn to deal with his frustrations a little better…I will keep you posted!


Buffalo Chicken Dip & Barbecue Chicken Dip Cups

These apps are SO good and SO easy!
This is a basic recipe split into two bowls with only one different ingredient added to make an entirely different and delicious appetizer.  So easy!  

I don’t usually measure when making buffalo chicken dip, but I know lots of people like to see the measurements of ingredients when they cook, so I did my best to get the amounts in here for ya. 
Start like you are making your typical buffalo chicken dip…1/2 cup of ranch, 1 (8 oz) block of cream cheese, 3/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, 2 chicken breasts shredded.  (you could use canned chicken if you want to go reeeeally simple, but I had some frozen shredded chicken breasts in the freezer, so it was pretty quick to just thaw…and much better than canned, in my opinion).
I added one small diced green pepper to this.
At this point, split the mixture into two bowls.  In one bowl, add 1/2 cup of hot sauce.  In the other bowl, add 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce.
How easy is that!!??

Mix your two bowls well and let them sit for a little bit while you do this next part.  It lets all of the flavors get acquainted πŸ™‚

This next part is so easy and your guests will think you’re all fancy.  Really, who doesn’t love an appetizer in a pretty little cup??
You can find the potsticker wrappers in the frozen section of the grocery store.  BTW, the recipe on the back of the potsticker package is GOOOOD! Try it. You will love it.

You have to let the wrappers sit out for a bit so you can easily separate them.

Place into a mini muffin tin. No need to bake them first.  Baking them with the filling in them makes for a soft bottom and crunchy tops.  Perfect combo!

Fill half of the cups with the buffalo mixture and half with the barbecue mixture.  Bake at 350 for 10 min.  Check on them…You want the edges to be crispy brown and the filling to be bubbly.  You can make these ahead of time and re-heat on a cookie sheet.  They are just as awesome the next day.  I know this for a fact πŸ˜‰


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