Pumpkin Paint and Wash Station – Busy Toddler

Three kids paint and wash pumpkins. There are 4 pumpkins, paint, and water in the photo.


Need a fall activity kids will do on repeat? Try creating a pumpkin paint and wash station. It’s the best outdoor fall activity that kids will keep coming back too all season long, and year after year.

Three kids paint and wash pumpkins. There are 4 pumpkins, paint, and water in the photo.

What is a pumpkin paint and wash station?

What it is is my kids’ favorite activity.

It’s the fall activity they most look forward to, the one that kicks off the season.

Pumpkin paint and wash means we’ve finally arrived in Autumn, and they can have another go at an activity they’ve been loving since 2016. You read that right. 2016.

For eight fall seasons, my kids have painted and washed pumpkins and it hasn’t gotten old yet.

RELATED: Looking for other fall activities for kids to try? Check out my list of favorites.

Two bins on a patio. One is full of water. The other has pumpkins, paint, and paintbrushes.


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Pretty easy going supply list. I like to keep supplies to a minimum – no need to get super fancy. Everything here except for the pumpkins and the scrub brushes are on my main activity supply list.

The how-to

I grabbed two bins for this activity: one for the pumpkins and paint, the other for the water. You can absolutely go without a bin for the pumpkins and paint. I was trying to keep things a little contained and help keep the pumpkins from rolling away.

In the second bin, I put a bunch of scrubbing brushes in with water. No soap in the water today – hose water works just fine to remove washable kid paint from slick pumpkin skin.

Remember when you are setting up an activity: don’t get hung up trying to recreate the activity exactly as I did it. Work with what you have and what makes sense for your family/environment.

Two painted pumpkins sit by a third unpainted pumpkin. Paint and brushes are in the background.

How this pumpkin paint and wash station turned out

It was perfection. Outdoor fall perfection in the shape of a fantastic kids activity.

I set this out and the kids (ages 8, 6, and 5) had an absolute ball. They’ve played with this set up for their entire lives, every fall, wash, rinse, paint, repeat, and yet: they squealed when they saw this outside for them today.

They’d paint a pumpkin.

Wash it.

Paint it again.




I’m not kidding – over and over again and again, telling each other stories about their design or pumpkin.

RELATED: Do you love crafting? Check out my list of the best fall crafts for kids.

What kids are learning

Remember: we do not need to justify play. We don’t need to have a reason to “let” kids play. Play is learning.

But what is fun is looking at play and considering what the child is learning – marveling at all they can learn when deep in play.

In this activity, these kids are:

  • Strengthening fine motor skills
  • Explore art
  • Examining a pumpkin more closely
  • Developing imaginary play skills
  • Exercising their focus and concentration
  • Practicing life skills (washing)

Pumpkin wash and paint is a simple activity but it packs in so much goodness for kids. What an amazing way to learn and grow.

Three kids are working on an activity. One is washing a pumpkin, one is painting a pumpkin, one is carrying a pumpkin.

Tip – Don’t worry if the paint dries

Many times over the last eight Autumns, we have forgotten to rinse the last pumpkin off and the paint dried.

Sometimes it dried on for many days.

No matter how long it sat, it always came clean at the end so have faith that as long as you used washable paint: your little pumpkins will come clean.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does washable paint stain clothing?

It can but it doesn’t have to. Use this trick. If washable paint gets on your child’s clothing: rinse it with warm water and apply hand soap. Rub the fabric against itself to activate the soap. Add a little more and soap, then let it sit for about 15 minutes. Rinse and repeat until the stain comes out before you ever toss it in the wash.

When can kids start painting?

Kids can begin painting whenever you are ready and feel like they’re enjoy the experience AND it won’t become an all you can eat, non-toxic paint buffet. My best advice, though: try. Don’t wait. Give it a go on a small scale. This is like a food exposure. Little by little, let them grow and learn how to use paint.

Can toddlers do this activity?

Yes! When my kids were toddlers, I separated this activity into two parts. One day we washed pumpkins. The next day we painted them. We often left them painted and let the rain wash them clean,

Susie Allison, M. Ed

Owner, Creator

Susie Allison is the creator of Busy Toddler and has more than 2 million followers on Instagram. A former teacher and early childhood education advocate, Susie’s parenting book “Busy Toddler’s Guide to Actual Parenting” is available on Amazon.


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