Make: A Playdough Jack-O-Lantern with Pop-In Features

Recycle a cereal box and celebrate Halloween with this super cute build-your-own playdough Jack-O-Lantern activity for kids! Mix and match spooky features with your own round little playdough pumpkins for an afternoon of wickedly creative form and design play.

And here’s a frighteningly good Halloween trick AND treat…you can reuse these same cardboard face bits for a rearrangeable jack-o-lantern 2D alternative!

To make your own playdough jack-o-lantern you’ll need:

Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains Woodpeckers Crafts and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*


PLAYDOUGH RECIPE (combine over warm heat):

Makes enough playdough for 1 pumpkin

  • 1 1/2 cups of water
  • 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 6 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • Food coloring
  • 1/2 cup of salt
  • 2 cups of flour

Build-Your-Own Playdough Jack-O-Lantern Instructions:

  1. Sketch features or download & print our templates

    Print out the desired feature pages onto cereal box sides that have been trimmed to fit your printer (you may want to run a test print through first to make sure your printer can handle the thickness of the box).

    A preview of our printable Jack-o-lantern activity template pack

    You don’t have to print our templates – drawing imaginative jack-o-lantern features is a great creative exercise for kids all on its own! Sketch out your features and pumpkins onto cereal boxes or scrap cardboard and color or paint.

  2. Cut out and color features

    Use scissors to cut out all of your features. If you drew your own on cardboard you can color or paint them any way you like! Give ample time to dry.

  3. Glue straw knobs to your features

    We added small, trimmed pieces of paper straw to the backs of our features so we could push them into our pumpkins. Use a hot glue gun to add a little dot of glue to the center back of your eyes, mouths, noses, etc. then attach a short length of paper straw to each. Let dry completely before use.

    Celebrate Halloween with this fun build-your-own Jack-O-Lantern play dough activity for kids!

  4. Form your pumpkin

    You can use store-bought playdough or make your own using our easy recipe. Form your play dough into pumpkin shapes. We squished ours into round balls, then used a piece of cardboard to create the ridges in the sides. You can add a paper leaf and twig stem, as we did, too!

  5. Design & play!

    That’s all there is to it! You can cut out as many pieces or pumpkin shapes as you like to build your own adorable jack-o-lanterns over and over again. The straw knobs make it easy for little hands to push the features into their playdough and re-arrange for hours of fun!

    Celebrate Halloween with this fun build-your-own Jack-O-Lantern play dough activity for kids!

For another upcycled jack-o-lantern craft, use a leftover box to make our DIY cardboard jack-o-lantern shape sorter! For a few more seasonal “build-your-own” crafts, be sure to visit our build-a-felt-turkey DIY  and felt fall rainbow tree tutorial.

Celebrate Halloween with this fun and easy build-your-own Jack-O-Lantern play dough activity for kids!

Here for the boos? We have Halloween covered with this adorable free printable Halloween doodle book, some super hip upcycled costume ideas, a roundup of our fav modern no-carve pumpkins and even a recipe (and ghost stickers!) for healthy homemade Ecto-Cooler!

A note about Amazon affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Amazon. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click-through to make a purchase, we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!

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Amanda E.

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.


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