Pumpkin Gloop: Fun Sensory Play Idea for Toddlers and Preschoolers

This pumpkin gloop sensory play activity is such a fun (and messy) idea to try this Autumn. When your pumpkin collection has started to go over, it’s the ideal time to try this activity with your toddlers and preschoolers.


A 3 year old boy scoops gloop into a pumpkin as part of a pumpkin 'soup' sensory play activity

Pumpkin Gloop Resources:

Whilst I have listed ingredients and resources that you need to make pumpkin gloop, you don’t have to follow the steps to the letter. Often, it’s fun to experiment and let your children put the ingredients into the sensory tray themselves.

Featured in our photographs is the IKEA Flisat table, but it isn’t an essential purchase to make this pumpkin gloop activity work.

  1. Cornflour (Cornstarch): 1 cup
  2. Water: 1 cup
  3. Orange Food Coloring: Several drops (adjust for desired color)
  4. Hollowed-Out Pumpkin: One small to medium-sized pumpkin (cleaned and empty)
  5. Pumpkin Seeds: A handful (cleaned and dried)
  6. Large Mixing Bowl – or make the mix directly in the tray
  7. Spoon or Whisk 
  8. Pots and Pans 
  9. Plastic Tray or Table Cover: To contain any mess

Method for Making Pumpkin Gloop:

  1. Prepare Your Play Area:Lay down a plastic table cover or use a plastic tray to protect the surface you’ll be working on. This will make cleanup much easier. We use a
  2. Hollow Out the Pumpkin:Cut the top off the pumpkin and scoop out all the seeds and flesh. You can use this opportunity to talk to your child about the different parts of a pumpkin.
  3. Create Pumpkin Seed Sensory Play:Set aside a handful of cleaned and dried pumpkin seeds. You can place them in a separate container for your child to explore alongside the gloop.
  4. Mix the Gloop:In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of cornflour with 1 cup of water. Stir well until the mixture is smooth.
  5. Add Orange Food Coloring:Add several drops of orange food coloring to the gloop mixture. Stir until the color is evenly distributed. You can adjust the amount of food coloring to achieve the desired shade of orange.
  6. Pour Gloop into the Pumpkin:Carefully pour the orange gloop mixture into the hollowed-out pumpkin. This step adds an exciting element of surprise for the kids!
  7. Let the Sensory Play Begin!Place the pumpkin on the plastic-covered surface and invite your child to explore the pumpkin gloop with their hands. Encourage them to squish, squeeze, and play with the gooey mixture.
  8. Add Pumpkin Seeds:While playing with the gloop, your child can also sprinkle in some pumpkin seeds for added texture and sensory exploration.
  9. Play and Learn:Encourage your child to describe how the gloop feels, notice the color changes as they manipulate it, and discuss the textures of the pumpkin seeds.
  10. Cleanup:When playtime is over, you can save the gloop in an airtight container for future play or dispose of it. Don’t forget to clean the pumpkin thoroughly if you plan to use it for decoration or other activities.

10 Benefits of Making Pumpkin Gloop

Making pumpkin gloop with young children offers a wide range of benefits. Here are some of the advantages of this sensory play activity:

  1. Sensory Exploration: Pumpkin gloop provides a rich sensory experience as children touch, squeeze, and manipulate the gooey texture, helping them develop their sense of touch and explore different sensations.
  2. Creativity and Imagination: It encourages imaginative play as children can pretend they are cooking, making pies, or simply exploring the inside of a pumpkin, fostering their creativity.
  3. Fine Motor Skills: Playing with the gloop involves using fingers and hands to manipulate and explore, which aids in the development of fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
  4. Language Development: Engaging in conversations about the gloop’s texture, color, and the sensations it produces helps children build their vocabulary and language skills.
  5. Science Exploration: Children can learn about the concept of matter changing states as they observe the gloop’s liquid and solid properties when pressed or squeezed.
  6. Color Recognition: Mixing in orange food coloring and observing the change in color helps children learn about color mixing and recognition.
  7. Texture Recognition: By incorporating pumpkin seeds into the gloop, children can explore and discuss the different textures present, enhancing their tactile awareness.
  8. Sensory Regulation: Sensory play can help children regulate their sensory systems, providing a calming or alerting effect, depending on their individual needs.
  9. Nature Appreciation: Using a hollowed-out pumpkin and pumpkin seeds connects the activity to nature and the fall season, fostering an appreciation for the natural world.
  10. Multi-Sensory Experience: The combination of touch, sight, and sometimes even smell (if using real pumpkin) creates a multi-sensory experience that can be highly engaging for children.

Dealing with mess

Yes, this pumpkin gloop sensory play can get messy but the more you expose your child to these activities, the easier it will become over time. I’ve been doing these activities with my children every week since they were tiny. I can now keep a sensory activity out all day (or even all week) and not have to worry about the play space descending into chaos – yes, really!

When you are first getting started with sensory play, it’s about practice. Sit with your child and model how to play and how to tidy up afterwards.

When it comes to mess during play, use your best judgement. There’s a difference between sensory resources getting on the carpet because of developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination and flinging it through the air or at a sibling!

On occasions, your child will try to test the boundaries around the amount of mess they can make during sensory play – this is entirely normal. Here are some example phrases to try when that does happen:

First remind your child of the boundaries: Remember we talked about keeping the pumpkin gloop in the tray? You forgot whilst you were having fun – that’s okay as you are still learning how to play with thegloop  but now I’m reminding you.

If your child still continues to make a mess: It looks like you are having a hard time keeping the gloop in the tray, let’s put away the tray and we can try again tomorrow – and yes, do follow through with this!

Remember, these phrases are for when your child is making a purposeful mess rather than making a mess due to those developing motor skills. However in both instances, the more exposure they have to sensory play the less messy they will become. This is always worth keeping in mind!

At Home Autumn Art & Sensory Camp

If you enjoyed this pumpkin gloop activity and wanted to find more fun Autumn themed activities, check out the At Home Autumn Art & Sensory Camp in my membership group. If you would like to access the content, you can check it out here. 

This image shows a timetable for an Autumn art & sensory camp. The pumpkin hammer art is one of the activities included

Autumn Blog posts to read next:

If you loved this pumpkin gloop sensoryplay activity, you might also enjoy some of our other Autumn posts. Most are suitable for both toddlers and preschoolers:

Autumn Art Ideas for Preschoolers

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt Mask

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt story basket

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt pre-writing skills  activity 

21 Autumn Ideas for the Entire Family

Autumn Activities for Kids: 25 Playful Prompts

Autumn Loose Parts Play

Autumn Preschool Leaf Cutting Tray

Apple Playdough Activity

Farm Playdough Ideas

Sunflower Sensory Play Activity 

Pumpkin Hammer Art 

You can also search the keyword ‘Autumn’ in the blog search bar for the most up-to-date Autumn blog post listing.


Interested in learning more?

If you enjoyed this pumpkin gloop sensory play activity and want to learn more about sensory play and the importance of play in the early years, you might just like my exclusive membership, ‘How I drink my Coffee Hot’ too. The membership costs just $5 per month and you get access to 10 mini courses on a range of topics including sensory play, play spaces and starting school. Here are some membership posts that you might enjoy:

Sensory Play Mini Course

Starting School Mini Course 

Play Space 101 Mini Course

Toys 101 Mini Course

Sian Thomas
an image of This Playful Home founder, Sian Thomas. The photo includes a photo of her daughter when she was around 18 months old

I’m Siân (rhymes with yarn), a play advocate, proud parent to three, and former teacher. My mission is to infuse more joy and less overwhelm into the lives of parents. Discover play-based activities with me that not only make learning FUN but also forge deep connections with your young learners, creating memories to cherish forever.