the world's premier FREE website for learners + teachers of English

Carve your 1st Pumpkin this Halloween

jack o lanternHalloween is a fun season for English learners. Many students experience their first Halloween while studying English abroad. Besides dressing up in costumes, carving a pumpkin is one of the most popular activities during the Halloween season.

Halloween takes place on October 31st each year. Whether you are abroad or at home, why not spend your Saturday carving a pumpkin? Find a friend and learn some English words as you carve your 1st pumpkin. You will have so much fun you will want to do it every year!

How to Carve a Pumpkin in 10 Easy Steps

  1. Select a pumpkin from your local grocer or farm. Choose one that sits up straight. It’s easier to work with a pumpkin that has a bit of a stem.
  2. Wipe your pumpkin with a wet cloth and place it on a table (cover the table in newsprint or a washable table cloth).
  3. Slice a wide circular hole around the stem. This will be the lid of your pumpkin. Set the lid aside. You will need it later.
  4. Roll up your sleeves. This will get messy. Get a big spoon and scoop the pumpkin guts out.
  5. Scrape the insides of the pumpkin until they are smooth and your pumpkin is hollow. Use a sharp edged spoon.
  6. Choose the best side of your pumpkin for the design. Draw a face or scene on the surface. (Some people sketch the design on paper first.) You can print out stencils, but the best pumpkins are homemade!
  7. Carve the pumpkin with a sharp knife using your drawing as a guide.
  8. Remove pumpkin pieces that fall inside. You can use toothpicks to attach pumpkin pieces as ears and accessories.
  9. Place a candle inside your pumpkin and put the lid back on.
  10. Now that it has a candle inside, it is called a Jack-o-lantern. Place your Jack-o-lantern on your doorstep.

Pumpkin Carving Tip
You can save the pumpkin seeds and bake them. Rinse the guts off the seeds and allow to dry. Place them on a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray (or toss in oil). Add salt to taste. Toast seeds in the oven at 250 for about one hour. Shake pan to flip seeds every 15 minutes.

Did you know? On Halloween night children dress up in costumes and knock on doors yelling, “trick-or-treat”. They carry bags or pillow cases. Neighbours open the doors and give the children candy. Children usually skip the houses that don’t have Jack-o-lanterns.

stem: a piece at the top of the fruit that you can hold onto
guts: the pulp inside the pumpkin
carve: cut a design
lid: the piece that fits on top
select: choose one from a group
scoop: remove large spoonfuls
scrape: remove material from a surface
hollow: empty
stencil: a drawing pattern
Jack o’ lantern: a carved pumpkin with a candle inside
skip: to miss or not attend one

Written by Tara Benwell for EnglishClub | October 2009
Tara Benwell is a Canadian freelance writer and editor who specializes in materials and articles for the ELT industry.

Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below