Kids celebrate fall harvest

Kids Harvest Festival:Ethan scoops out pumpkin seeds during the annual Harvest Festival Thursday at the Children?s Center.:Rachel Lotz - State Hornet


Kids Harvest Festival:Ethan scoops out pumpkin seeds during the annual Harvest Festival Thursday at the Children?s Center.:Rachel Lotz – State Hornet

Laila Barakat

As autumn approaches and the summer leaves turn from green to gold, children at the Associated Students Children’s Center celebrated the harvest season by exploring the insides of pumpkins, playing with hay and carving apple skins.

Infants, toddlers and preschoolers participated in this year’s Harvest Festival Thursday in the center’s backyard.

“This year’s theme was cultivating community,” said Denise Wessels, director of the Children’s Center. “It is an opportunity for families to not only join their children in exploring nature, but also to share what harvest season means for their culture.”

The center’s main goal was to help children feel connected with nature while also connecting with the center’s diverse and multicultural families, Wessels said.

“It is a time where nature is changing and our goal is to help children feel as connected to earth as possible,” she said. “We want to take a multicultural approach because we want to honor the culture that our diverse families bring.”

The children are split according to their age groups, and each age group had activities in separate yards at the center.

“With the children (under the age of 2) there will be a lot of sensory exploration, (like) looking at and feeling the inside of the pumpkin and experiencing corn stalks and hay bales,” Wessels said. “The children (aged 2 and 3) have more hands on activities that will include nature art, cooking and other nature related activities.”

The 2- and 3-year-olds also tasted pumpkin seeds cooked different ways and created collages using pinecones, sticks and leaves, while the 3- to 5-year-olds learned to juggle, marble paint, make pancakes and explore the insides of pumpkins.

Children appeared most intrigued by the pumpkin exploration station, where they scooped out pumpkin seeds into a tray that would later be salted and roasted for everyone to enjoy.

Logan, who said she was “almost 4,” rolled up her sleeves and stuck her hands into the largest of the five pumpkins at the station.

“Ewww, this is slimy!” she said. “One time, at my dad’s house, we carved a pumpkin and it was slimy, too.”

At the marble painting station, children chose among harvest-colored paints, such as yellow, red, brown, green and olive green. They placed a beige piece of paper inside a plastic container, squirted paint colors on it and rolled marbles around, creating abstract designs.

Quinn, 3, said he chose all the colors because they were “right there.”

“I like blue,” he said. “But there is no blue so I picked these colors instead.”

The juggling station was called Juggling with Jacob. Children watched intently as “Jacob” juggled three medium-sized balls. The children juggled with multiple sheer, neon green, pink, and orange scarves.

“The first step to juggling is catching,” Jacob said.

After much observation, Caleb, 4, made his first attempt at juggling.

“Like this?” he asked, as both of his scarves fell on the ground.

Floating bubbles fascinated the children in the Bambini yard, which consisted of children aged 2 and under. Most of the children were not of speaking age; however, their squeals of excitement and smiling faces assured parents and Children’s Center volunteers that they were having fun.

Parents took pictures of their children holding pumpkins and playing with hay. Children passed pumpkins back and forth, making noises of disapproval if the other held onto the pumpkin for too long.

Meanwhile, the 2- and 3-year-olds played with corn husks, told stories, ate apple skins and had their faces painted.

“My flower is red and it is yummy,” said Noor, 2, who had a flower painted on her left cheek.

Volunteer Daija Joe, junior psychology major, said the face painting was a good way for kids to have fun.

“The whole point of being a kid is to be free and have fun,” she said.

Stories about pumpkins, authored by children at the Children’s Center, hung from a nearby tree.

Colin, 4, wrote a story about the “Three Little Pumpkins.”

“Once upon a time there was three little pumpkins skating down a mountain,” he wrote. “Then one hit a bump and he did a flip. Then, he did a spin. The end.”

Laila Barakat can be reached at [email protected].