Pumpkins and Jack-o-lanterns!

Kids trick or treat on Halloween night.

Halloween is right around the corner! Children love dressing up in costumes, trick-or-treating, and participating in all the wonderful Halloween activities teachers prepare in the classroom.

Halloween is filled with magical changes. Children put on costumes, and “change into” a princess, Spiderman, a witch, a ghost, or a character from their favorite Disney movie. We see the magical change of pumpkins into jack-o-lanterns.  

The concept of change is one of the “big ideas” we teach young learners. Babies grow and change. Bean seeds planted in the soil in little paper cups grow into bean plants. Caterpillars turn into beautiful butterflies. Small pumpkins grow into big pumpkins and pumpkins turn into jack-o-lanterns!

Halloween is also a perfect time to teach new English words and the concept of change.  

The song “Pumpkin, Pumpkin” is a fun Halloween song to do! The children experience change:

-from a pumpkin to a jack-o-lantern

-from small to big

-from a quiet voice to a loud voice

-from tiny, high voice to big, low voice

-from sitting to standing

To begin, make two paper pumpkins — a small one and a large one. Each of the pumpkins should have two sides — one plain side, and one side with a face (jack-o-lantern).  This pattern by Shala on Pinterest is helpful. Show the students the plain side of the “small” pumpkin and say “pumpkin.” Then turn it around and say “jack-o-lantern.”  Once students know these two words, put them into this simple chant:

Jack-o-Lantern Chant by Kathleen Kampa

Pumpkin, pumpkin, (turn picture around) jack-o-lantern
Pumpkin, pumpkin, (turn picture around) jack-o-lantern
Pumpkin, pumpkin, (turn picture around) jack-o-lantern
Happy Halloween!

Now you’re ready to expand upon the language and sing the song “Pumpkin, Pumpkin.”

Use this slide show to teach the song. The lyrics and ideas for movements are below:

Pumpkin, Pumpkin
(words adapted by Kathleen Kampa, music: traditional)

(Sit with students in a circle. Sing quietly.)

Pumpkin, pumpkin small and fat,
(With fingers, make the shape of a small pumpkin.)

Turn into a jack-o-lantern,
(Roll hands. Spread fingers out wide.)

Just like that!
(Tap two fingers on the palm of your hand as you say each word.)

(Sing the verse again!)

Spoken: Grow and grow and grow and grow
and grow and grow and grow and GROW!
(Slowly stand up while making a big pumpkin shape. Get louder!)

(Sing loudly.)

Pumpkin, pumpkin big and fat,
(While standing, make the shape of a big pumpkin with your whole body.)

Turn into a jack-o-lantern,
(Turn around. Jump into a big shape.)

(Clap and stamp on each word.)

(Sing the verse again!

Here’s a video of my Japanese students singing this song. 

Thanks to my dear friend Setsuko Toyama for creating this pdf of the song lyrics. 

“Pumpkin, Pumpkin” is one of many holiday songs featured on Kathy Kampa’s Special Days and Holidays CD available on iTunes and Apple Music. Four more Halloween songs are featured, so check out recent the blog posts.

Kathy Kampa’s Special Days and Holidays

ms kampa 12-8

I have numerous activities saved on my Halloween Pinterest board.

Thanks to my dear friend Setsuko Toyama for creating this pdf of the song lyrics. 

Let me know how your children enjoy “Pumpkin, Pumpkin.”  Happy Teaching!


Kathy Kampa is a passionate educator of young learners. She seeks to nurture children’s imaginations and spark creativity through fun and engaging activities. Kathy believes that music and movement should be a part of every young child’s learning.

Kathy is the co-author of Magic Time, Everybody Up, Oxford Discover (ELTon winner), and Beehive (published by Oxford University Press). She has been teaching young learners in Tokyo, Japan for over 30 years. Kathy has composed educational music for Tokyo Shoseki and recorded songs for Learning World. She is active as a teacher trainer, inspiring teachers around the world. Kathy and her husband have currently returned to her home state of Minnesota in the US.

If you’re interested in more of Kathy’s work, check out her YouTube channel at Kathy Kampa and subscribe to this blog at magictimekids.com. Her second album, Jump Jump Everyone, is available on iTunes and Apple Music.

Just in case you didn’t find enough goodies here, check out this video of Kathy teaching her Japanese students the song “Pumpkin, Pumpkin” without the recording. Enjoy!