Our good friend Rebecca Dunn is back on the Library as Incubator Project with another great post in her popular Pages to Projects series! She shares how to incorporate elements of art education and appreciation into storytime; if you’ve been inspired by Rebecca’s projects or have used her storytime plans at your library, we’d love to hear about it! Share your experience in the comments or on social media. ~Erinn
Pages to Projects: Halloween Cut Paper Pumpkins
by Rebecca Dunn
The air is growing crisp, leaves are starting to turn, and pumpkins adorn neighborhood doorsteps. It is fall, and with fall comes my favorite storytime holiday of the year, Halloween.
A must-read-aloud of the season for preschoolers and younger elementary school age children is One Spooky Night: A Halloween Adventure by Kate Stone. One Spooky Night follows a little monster’s journey at night meeting all kinds of Halloweenish characters along the way. Is little monster afraid? He sure isn’t, because with each page-turn these characters reveal their friendly nature.
The book is comprised of paper cut outs and semi transparent layers which gives it a unique and intriguing multimedia effect:
The peek-a-boo aspect of One Spooky Night’s cut-aways is the highlight of its charm. It is also a wonderful opportunity to teach youngsters about the art of cut paper. Cut paper art, also known as “papercutting” or “paper cut art,” are paper designs achieved by cutting away paper to accomplish space, design, and structure. It can be 2-D or 3-D, or an entire installation. This intricate craft is usually achieved using very small specialty scissors or a knife to cut away the desired shapes to reveal the design.
To mimic this technique in its simplest form with young children, we’re going to get busy with safety scissors by making cut paper pumpkins! Kids as young as 3-years-old can start utilizing scissors, but mastering scissors is a skill that takes time to develop and each child learns at their own pace. And practice makes perfect. This craft can be modified for every skill level. Depending on how young your group is, you can prep some of the steps ahead of time for them. If they’re a bit older, they will be able to manage most steps on their own or with help from a caregiver.
- Colored copy paper which can be found at an office supply store
- Black cardstock
- Child safety scissors
- School glue or glue stick
- Glitter (optional)
How to Make Cut Paper Pumpkins:
- Print out this pumpkin template (I made it just for you!) on brightly colored copy paper. Copy paper is much easier for little hands to cut compared to cardstock or construction paper.
- Before storytime, cut brightly colored paper in half width-wise. Cut the black cardstock in half width-wise as well.
- When it’s time to attempt the craft with your storytime group, have kids fold their colored paper on the dotted line.
- Once folded, cut on the black line. This will be the silhouette of the pumpkin.
- Next, cut on the fold of the pumpkin without cutting to the outer edge. It might help the kids if you have an example or two already cut for them to see.
- Open up the pumpkin and glue to the half sheet of black cardstock.
- They can be finished here, or if you have supplies to embellish the cut paper artwork, then feel free to. The project is actually quite striking without anything else added, but we used glitter anyway because, well, glitter is fun.
While the kids are creating their crafts, go around and talk to them about symmetry (Look – When you open up your pumpkin, one side is exactly the same as the other side!) and the shapes they create when they make cutouts in the pumpkin; triangles, circles, rectangles, etc. This craft is a great excuse to sneak in some simple math and spatial relations concepts.
A story, art, and a little Halloween fun…. It’s pumpkin carving without the guts and goop, and kids get to practice their scissor skills too.
Check out these other Halloween themed books:
- Five Little Pumpkins by Iris Van Rynbach
- Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara
- The Hallo-Wiener by Dav Pilkey
- Little Goblins Ten by Pamela Jane
- The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams, illustrated by Megan Lloyd
- Plumply, Dumply Pumpkin by Mary Sefozo, illustrated by Valeria Petrone
- Popcorn by Frank Asch
- Pumpkin Eye by Denise Fleming
- Pumpkin Trouble by Jan Thomas
- Pumpkin Heads! by Wendell Minor
This doesn’t have to be a Halloween craft. You can attempt it with any shape and pair it with one of Nikki McClure’s beautiful cut paper illustrated picture books appropriate for stortime:
- Don’t miss Rebecca’s previous Pages to Projects blog posts.
- For more book recommendations and crafts that introduce fine art to children, be sure to check out Rebecca’s Pages to Projects Pinterest Board!
Rebecca Zarazan Dunn is a Youth Services Librarian Assistant for the Lawrence Public Library, and was recently named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker for 2013. When she’s not at the library or running after her 3-year old daughter, she is most often found at her blog home, Sturdy for Common Things, where she writes about books, library programs, and living the simple life in Lawrence, Kansas.