Expressive Pumpkin Portraits


These pumpkins are so cute, and a great way to teach secondary colors, scissor skills, facial features, and emotional awareness.

You need:

  • construction paper in orange, green, purple, black, and white
  • scissors
  • glue
  • yellow crayons (or construction paper crayons, even better!)

To make life simpler, I cut orange and green paper into 9 1/2″ x 6″ pieces (1/2 sheet), and black paper into 4 3/4″ x 3″ pieces (basically 1/4 sheet.)  I cut white paper into 3″ squares to make eyes.

First, we talked about secondary colors, purple, green, and orange, and how those colors are each made by combining two primary colors in equal amounts.

I then started the project by showing students how to create “pumpkin texture” on the orange sheets by drawing thick, curved lines in yellow crayon from the top to the bottom of the orange rectangle (either “portrait” or “landscape” orientation, depending on if you want a tall or short pumpkin).  Then, I showed them how to round off the corners of the rectangle to create an oblong shape.  This will be our pumpkin!

We then cut “leafy hair” shapes out of the green paper for our pumpkins.  This is where I let the kids do their own thing — we had mohawks, dreadlocks, and even supermodel green hair going on!  I showed them how to make hair have leaf-like peaks, but I wasn’t too didactic with hair requirements.  I like letting them come up with creative features.  I found it is easiest for kids to glue the hair to the pumpkin and then glue them both to the purple background.

Then, we talked a little about facial expressions, and I drew a few examples of happy, scared, angry, and silly mouth shapes on the board.  I then demonstrated how to cut the mouth shape out of the black paper and glue onto my pumpkin.  I also repeated this step for eyes.  It took very little demonstrating — students enjoyed experimenting with shapes and the effects of different shapes on the emotion of the face.   I then added eyebrows and pupils (cut from leftover black paper) for extra expression, and let kids add any other details they wanted to their faces.  The results are extremely fun, and a little bit autobiographical!

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