October 16, 2013

Decorating with Toddlers: Painted Letter Pumpkin

Our youngest niece, Sophia, stayed with us over the weekend. She's just over 2 years old, full of energy and sweet as can be. We'd planned a couple indoor activities since it was expected to be a rainy weekend and painting her very own family pumpkin turned out to be one of the biggest hits.

I'd remembered when John & Sherry from Young House Love made a painted letter pumpkin with their daughter when she was a year old and drew inspiration from the idea of letting Sophia get a little messy, then peeling away the layers of painter's tape to reveal the final design.

  • Pumpkin
  • Paint
  • Foam brushes
  • Painter's Tape
  • Plastic bag or other protective covering
  • Scissors
  • Paper towels

The basic idea here is to create your letter, shape or design with painter's tape, allow your little one to get as messy and creative with the paint as they like, then peel away the tape to reveal a clean design against the paint.

She loved painting over the taped letter and kept chatting with me about how she was painting all over it. I'd decided on the letter W beforehand since it's the letter of her family's last name. With 2 siblings so close in age, I kept thinking if she returned with a "family" pumpkin rather than an "S for Sophia" pumpkin it might help cut down on any jealous feelings. Plus, it gave us lots of good conversation about how to pronounce the letter W, talk about how it stood for her family's last name and talk about the other letters that make up her and her siblings' names.

I'd also picked out 3 colors from the big Martha Stewart collection I had on hand. I figured 3 would give her a fair amount of choices and let her decide which to choose first, second and third. Having 3 separate foam brushes for each paint color was a time and mess save for me.

You can probably tell I'm the aunt to this child since we used one of Tim's man-sized aprons to wrap all around and protect her, ha. DIY kids aprons need to get on our list of projects, asap. Speaking of protection, I basically cut open a big trash bag and placed it over the table as the work surface. It made for an easy surface to squeeze and wipe away paint, then just toss the whole thing away when we were finished.

She also got really serious about painting the stem. The freedom to break the normal rules (like painting over the letter and stem) seemed really fun to her — it's always amazing to get to view the world through a set of young eyes and hands:

The 3 colors seemed to be the perfect blend of giving her enough options and choices to work with without overwhelming her or creating that all too well known muddy mix of every color.


Once she was finished painting, we let the pumpkin sit to dry. This is the point where you should peel away the tape while the paint is still wet. This will help you achieve a smooth, clean line between the pumpkin and paint. This is where I got distracted by cleaning up a busy toddler and forgot to peel it away before drying...

So! Once the pumpkin was dry, I peeled up a small corner of the tape and let her have at peeling away the rest:

The lines came out jagged since we'd waited for the paint to dry before peeling the tape away, but the big orange W really popped out against the lighter paint in a really pretty way — plus, Sophia loved watching the W that she'd previously painted over magically reappear:

This particular pumpkin was not pristine or perfect by any means, but just look at the sense of pride and excitement on Sophia's face — she's the only critic that really matters here:

We ended up setting it on our trunk table in the front room to show off until her parents came to pick her up and she just loved getting to come over and pay it a visit every so often:

I think it turned out really well. We've got plans to head out to a local pumpkin patch with the lot of all 3 kids next week, so there should be more pumpkin adventures to come!

Discover More:
DIY Pumpkin Ideas

P.S. This post was brought to you today by the letter W.


  1. What a fun project for her. She is such a cutie!

  2. Oh that's a really cute simple idea. It's nice too that it's easily suitable for a range of ages.


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