How to carve a pumpkin

Who knows if the Jack-O-Lanterns survived the trip home...
First, we practiced making Jack-O-Lantern faces. I told my nephews, Jerad Woods, 4, and Eli Woods, 2, that we had a special Halloween game we were going to play after supper. So we drew all types of faces that a Jack-O-Lantern could possibly have. (Eli actually just scribbled on my drawings, but felt like he “helped,” which was the important thing!)
We had silly faces, scary faces, and traditional Jack-O-Lantern faces. Jerad practiced writing his name on all of his drawings, and during supper, the idea of a special game was almost better than mac and cheese.

Carving the perfect pumpkin this Halloween:

1. Draw a circle or hexagon on top of the pumpkin in preparation for making an opening large enough for your hand to reach through. Jerad drew the circle with a pencil. I cut through the stem end of the pumpkin along his outline with a sharp knife. Use a back-and-forth slicing motion to cut through the thick, tough skin— this is an adult thing. Working with any sharp tools should always be done with adult supervision.

2. Remove the stem end, which will act as a cap, and let the children get all the “pumpkin guts” off the cap. Have a spoon on hand to help them out.

3. Use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp from inside the pumpkin. Hold the spoon by its bowl to get extra leverage while scooping. Jerad and Eli worked on the “pumpkin guts” a little, but needed help scraping the sides.

4. Draw a pattern for the face on the clean pumpkin or scribe the lines into the skin using a pencil. We used a pencil and let Jerad make designs on the pumpkin. Be sure to make the eyes, nose and mouth large enough; you’ll have a hard time cutting out tiny features when you’re using a big knife blade to saw through tough skin.

5. Follow your pattern as you cut all the way through the pumpkin. Push the cut-out features gently from the inside of the pumpkin and discard the pieces. Eli could even help after the pieces were pushed out most of the way. Coat the cut edges with cooking oil to keep your jack-o’-lantern fresh longer. Sprinkle a little cinnamon inside the pumpkin for a GREAT scent.

6. Place a votive candle or a tea light candle inside the pumpkin to create a special Halloween glow. Avoid leaving burning candles unattended.