Athlyn Green lives on an acreage and enjoys the flowers, plants, and bushes therein.
A Safe and Fun Pumpkin Carving Alternative for Kids
Homeowners that have gardens often have an over-abundance of certain vegetables, one of them being zucchini. If you've produced an abundant crop and are looking for ideas as for what to do with your zucchinis, why not let your kids carve them?
Carving zucchinis, in fact, is a much safer undertaking for kids because the outer skin is so much softer than tackling vegetables with tough outer shells, such as gourds or pumpkins. If you've ever tried to carve a pumpkin, you know how challenging it can be and even adults have cut themselves when the knife slipped. While both gourds and pumpkins can be a cheerful and cheerful part of autumn, if you find trying to cut into them a tad daunting, zucchinis offer an easier alternative.
Transforming zucchinis into cute porch and deck decorations can be a good fall project before the weather turns colder. Children may particularly enjoy carving zucchinis. This creative endeavor can help them to develop an interest in garden plants and the value of using up or "recycling" surplus materials.
Smaller and larger zucchinis can be carved depending on the planned project outcome. Smaller zucchinis, by dent of their shape, are easily carved into bugs or animals that naturally have oblong shapes, ladybugs, caterpillars, snakes—boys will like this—whereas larger zucchinis make better subjects for faces or gnome homes or lighthouses. As with pumpkins, if they are hollowed out, a candle may be placed inside to light up the the interior.
Preparing Zucchinis for Carving
- Zucchinis should be washed or wiped down to remove dirt and bugs, then patted dry before proceeding. Dry zucchinis are less slippery and are therefore safer when kids are working with them.
- This is a project that is best done outside. A porch area or a table should be lined with large plastic bags or papers to catch zucchini scraps, which can be moist.
- The hard stem may be removed from the zucchini, especially if the zucchini is large and the carver wants to remove the innards and place a candle inside.
- An indelible marker can be used to mark out areas for carving.
- Free stencils can be accessed online and printed off, then used as templates to draw eyes, noses and mouths or to mark out other designs on zucchini. For example, as older child might choose to leave most of the zucchini intact and cut a design into it using a stencil for a template.
- A pen that has gone dry makes an excellent and safe tool to trace out stencil outlines. The pen can also be used to scrape off the green outer skin and to remove flesh.
- The wider bottom part of the zucchini can be cut across and used to stabilize the zucchini.
Kids Carving Tools
- melon baller
- old-fashioned can opener with pointy v-shaped end
- regular dinner knife
- large spoon
A Fun Idea
Why not suggest kids carve a grouping of ghosts with wacky faces?
A mouth with giant teeth
Lettering: Welcome or Happy Halloween
How Kids Can Carve a Zucchini Safely
Kids need a few simple "tools" to get started and most of these can be found in the home kitchen. A simple melon baller, an old-fashioned metal can opener, and a regular dull kitchen dinner knife and spoon are all that is needed to get started.
- Use a melon-baller to remove flesh from zucchini.
- A metal can opener with the classic V-shape on the end, makes a great little carving tool for areas where a cleaner definition is needed.
- A regular dull dinner knife can be used for making teeth or in any areas where a cleaner cut is desired.
- A teaspoon can be used to cut rounded areas.
- A large spoon can be used to remove innards from a larger zucchini.
Hands down, this is so much safer for young ones and a project they can easily master and feel a sense of accomplishment about.
Projects for Older Kids
An older child may not choose to actually carve something out of his zucchini but rather to carve an image into it. This can be done using a stencil and there are a surprising range of good free stencils designs to choose from.
Images to Carve into Zucchinis
Displaying Carved Zucchinis
Kids may enjoy arranging a grouping of their carved zucchinis out on the front lawn or perched up top of a bale or a bed of straw. Carved zucchinis can be placed in a basket or wheel barrow or displayed on a porch, a deck or beside a door.
Because of their moisture content, if placing zucchinis on porches or decks, some plastic, foil, or even a old square of plywood should be laid down first to protect wood surfaces, these can be covered with straw.
Tealights can be used to light up the insides of carved zucchinis. This works especially well with zucchini ghosts (it will have been carved out from the bottom, so place zucchini over light) gnome houses or lighthouses (slip light inside through door opening).
Fall or Halloween Activity
Unlike gourds or pumpkins, zucchinis will only last a couple of days before starting to go soft but this is a fun craft for kids and one they might choose to repeat in the same season or even make a yearly tradition.
© 2013 Athlyn Green
Tatiana from Florida on January 25, 2014:
Oh how cute! What a fun alternative to the pumpkin, or in addition to! I love how the stem becomes a hat! Will definitely have to give this a try this year!
ignugent17 on August 12, 2013:
Kids will really enjoy doing this and as you said it is easier for the kids because the outer skin is softer than pumpkins. Thanks for sharing the technique. It would be great for table center piece too. :-)
Athlyn Green (author) from West Kootenays on March 28, 2013:
Hi Peggy, this is a fun way to teach kids about garden plants and they are so much easier and safer to carve than pumpkins.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 28, 2013:
This is certainly a cute and different look from the normal pumpkin carving. Zucchinis can get quite large in a garden if not picked when young. If using them in this way, after they no longer look good, hopefully they can be composted to enrich next year's garden. Up and interesting votes.
Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 27, 2013:
A unique and creative idea with Carving Zucchinis for Fall Porch Decorations, often other vegetables are carved but this one looks so good!