Pumpkins on the Gate Invitation

Bright orange pumpkins and spooky Jack o’Lantern faces are popping up everywhere. More than anything the bright orange of pumpkins symbolizes Halloween approaching.

This story time is a fun way to get excited about Halloween with toddlers and preschoolers. I also included a creative prompt to work on counting in a pumpkin themed way.

5 Little Pumpkins Story Time

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Picture Books about Pumpkins

Featured Book: 5 Little Pumpkins by Dan Yaccarino

This is our featured book for the Virtual Book Club for Kids this week and it depicts the classic Halloween poem wonderfully illustrated by Yaccarino. It’s truly hard to beat when it comes to Halloween books and toddlers or preschoolers.

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Pumpkins Storytime for Preschoolers

More Pumpkin Themed Books:

Seven Orange Pumpkins: A Counting Book by Steve Savage

I love this one for toddlers. It is similar to our featured book in the way it starts with a number of pumpkins and then they disappear, but I love this fun poem and the illustrations.

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Little Boo by Stephen Wunderli

This is a sweet little book about a tiny seed that tries really hard to be scary but just can’t. It is a fun way to follow the development of a seed into a pumpkin. Little Boo’s story is also a good example of the patience involved in growing up.

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How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara

A classroom is asked “How many seeds in a pumpkin?” and what follows is one of the best examples of a hands on learning activity. Counting skills, pumpkin knowledge and more are skillfully integrated into this wonderful book. It is best for school aged kids due to its setting and length, but one of my favorites to share this time of year so I had to share in case there are others reading and creating with kids ages 5 and up.

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5 Little Pumpkin Rhyme

5 Little Pumpkins Sitting on a Gate (watch on YouTube)

This is the classic rhyme that inspired the featured book this week and the activity below. I like to act this one out on our felt board with my toddlers every Halloween and then leave the felt board pieces out for them to play with for the week.

TIP: If you don’t want to create your own felt board pieces you can use our How Many Pumpkins are on Your Gate Printable and these cute pumpkins.

Fall Preschool Story Time Ideas Pack


Dabber Pumpkin Count

Dabbers are one of the first art materials I used with our kids when they were infants and are still one of their favorites more than 4 years later. They are also a great, easy, low-mess material to pull out after story time.

If you aren’t familiar with Dabbers or Dot Markers or Bingo Dabbers they are a perfect art material for infants and toddlers. I love them because they are;

*Easy to grip


*Easy to use, which is important for young kids with limited motor skills

*Make brilliantly colored marks

Dabbers sat on our art shelf from the time our kids were introduced to them around 15 months and still sit there today. They continue to be one of our most used, most loved art materials on our art cart.

We have done a ton of different things with our dabbers – 5 of our favorites are below – but here is one for Halloween or Fall that goes perfectly after this story time.

How Many Pumpkins Are On Your Gate?


Watercolor Paper (with printable printed or glued on)
Table cover (I use an old thick curtain)
Paint Shirts
Wash cloths or paper towels (for clean up)


Cover the table and lay out art smocks if you are concerned about marks or stains. Dabbers are washable, but they are like washable paints and markers in that there is no 100% guarentee.

Set each space with a piece of paper. In this case I used our How Many Pumpkins are on Your Gate Printable page with a gate for the pumpkins.

Have dabbers available. You can order them online here.

I also wrote “How Many Pumpkins are on Your Gate?” out on an index card and placed it on the table to tie in some literacy.


The main goal for this activity is counting. Your preschoolers will be creating and then counting.

First, read the prompt or just ask your toddler to add some pumpkins to the gate.

My kids decided to use orange and green and create pumpkin like shapes on their gate but that wasn’t part of my explanation. The entire array of colors were on the table and what their pumpkins looked like really wasn’t important to me. If your child wants all blue pumpkins or a rainbow of gourds I’d go with it.

If you have a younger child and the “pumpkins” end up looking like a rainbow of smudges all over the paper that is also okay.

When they are done, ask if they want to count their pumpkins with you. Help them go slowly, encouraging them to point to each one as they count.

For younger toddlers, (the ones that have a rainbow of color all over the paper), ask if they can help you count how many colors are on their gate. Count those one by one. OR just focus on colors and have them help you name the colors they put on their gate.

In our case, once we had counted they wanted to add more. They dabbed some more pumpkins and then we counted again. Follow your preschoolers’ lead.

I like to write the total across the top to help draw the connection between the written numbers and words and what we say aloud. In the case pictured above I wrote “Child’s Name has 7 Pumpkins,” “7 pumpkins” would have also worked.

For older kids, ask they to help you figure out who has more and less pumpkins. Can they tell you who has the least? Who has the most? Can they order everyone’s gates from least to most pumpkins?

DOWNLOAD NOW: How Many Pumpkins are on Your Gate Printable

5 More Ways to Use Dot Dabbers

1. Dabbers + White Paper

2. Dabbers + Large Piece of Paper on Table or Wall

3. Crayons + Dabbers. Have your child draw with crayons first and then cover with Dabber ink when done.

4. Dot Pictures. Draw Circles all over the paper to invite your child to fill each with a dot. Great for one-to-one coorespondence and hand-eye coordination.

5. Dabbers and Paintbrushes and Watercolor Paper

Having a material like dabbers available on multiple days and with different materials allows children to become familiar with them. Having the chance to explore and create in different ways extends their comfort and opens the door for more creativity.

5 Little Pumpkins Story Time and Dabber Pumpkin Count

More Pumpkin Themed Activities:

Are you a member of the amazing Weekly Virtual Book Club community on Facebook? It is free and fantastic weekly fun. Together a team of co-hosts (including yours truly) share a favorite children’s book and related activities each week. Join our community of over 6,000 creative parents, teachers, and childcare providers!

These are the activities from our team of co-hosts this week! I can’t wait to see what you do with our bookclub book this week.

Literacy Activities

Math Activities

Science, Technology and Engineering Activities

DOWNLOAD NOW: How Many Pumpkins are on Your Gate Printable

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