We seem to be starting quite a few new features on our blog and Facebook page recently and here’s one more: we will be compiling fun things to do with your little ones at home that either complement the season or what’s going on at Circus.

And yes, many of these activities you might want to do on one of our rainy days here in the UK.

Pumpkins to carve. Which will you choose?

Our first instalment has to do with the seasonally appropriate activity of pumpkin carving.  First a bit of basic history that can can share with your children while you pick out your pumpkins or contemplate your carving design…

The tradition of hollowing out vegetables like beets, turnips and potatoes to make lanterns to ward off evil spirits originated in the UK with the Celts. Somewhere in the 1800’s immigrants from the UK to the US started using pumpkins as their carving material as they were cheaper and widely available at the time of the year when Jack O’ Lanterns are carved out for All Hallows Eve.

Now to carve a pumpkin you can purchase a handy kit like this one from carveking.co.uk that provides tools to mark, scoop and carve your pumpkin plus design templates.  Or you could make do with tools, like spoons and knives you might find around your kitchen.  It depends on how elaborate you want to get with your design.

Some people are happy with the traditional Jack O’ Lantern face design with triangles for the eyes and nose and a toothy grin while others might want something a bit more elaborate.

Talk to your kids about what they want and if there’s dissension amongst you about what design to carve you can always buy more than one pumpkin and carve several to please everyone.

Why not put on some Halloween music to get you in the mood?  Here’s a special App to download off the iTunes store that will certainly add to the fun.

Here’s a guide from the Guardian website that shows step-by-step directions on how to carve a Jack O’ Lantern regardless of how elaborate the design.

Getting your kids involved can be tricky as carving with sharp implements might be a bit risky.  So it might be that they draw the design on the paper while you cut the top of the pumpkin off.  Your kids will enjoy helping to scoop out the pulp and the seeds and be involved with the with the business of transferring the design to the pumpkin. However we recommend that you carve out the design.

Once your Jack O’ Lantern is finished you’ll want to display it in a window or on your doorstep with a candle inside for the whole spooky effect!

Did you know that you can rinse the seeds, toss them in a little olive oil and salt and roast them in the oven until toasted and you’ll have a healthy, well deserved snack to enjoy after all your hard work?  Here’s a recipe from allrecipes.com with the details.

We hope you enjoyed our first installment of The Circus Rainy Day Children’s Activity Guide.  Look out for future posts every month!