Identify Emotions with Pumpkin Emotion Faces

This pumpkin feelings activity is an OLD one here on the site. But there is just something fun about pumpkin emotion faces that little ones love! It’s a social emotional activity for preschoolers and toddlers that foster emotional development…with fun and interactive pumpkin feelings!

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.

pumpkin feelings

Pumpkin Emotions Activity

You can use interactive felt pieces to create pumpkin emotions, or facial expressions on pumpkins to create different feelings on the 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

Time needed: 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.

Identification of Emotions

The tricky part of developing self regulation in preschoolers is the development of an essential skill that impacts self-regulation in later years. Giving young children the words, or the emotion vocabulary, to explain how they feel by identifying emotion faces is the perfect starting point!

That’s where these pumpkin emotion faces come into play!

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.

One way to do this would be to pair the pumpkin feelings activity with a feelings check in. Children could identify their own feelings and match it to the pumpkin facial expressions.

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
Paper pumpkin with a happy face
Preschool pumpkin emotion activity, child places paper pieces on a pumpkin to make a smile



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 🙂

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!


Colleen Beck, OTR/L has been an occupational therapist since 2000, working in school-based, hand therapy, outpatient peds, EI, and SNF. Colleen created The OT Toolbox to inspire therapists, teachers, and parents with easy and fun tools to help children thrive. Read her story about going from an OT making $3/hour (after paying for kids’ childcare) to a full-time OT resource creator for millions of readers. Want to collaborate? Send an email to

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pumpkin emotions