Does your kid love gross Halloween stuff? Yeah, ours too. This activity is a fun combination of brain anatomy and carving skills – it’s the perfect pre-Halloween treat for a curious young scientist!
A note for parents, though – this activity is meant for ages 9 and up, especially if you’re using a paring knife. You can also use pumpkin carving tools which are a little safer. Even as an adult, this activity takes focus and concentration – you might want to let the kids do the first cuts, and then finish it off yourself. Or, just let them use the vegetable peeler and pumpkin carving tools. This activity does help improve knife skills for kids by giving them a chance to carefully carve (just be sure to follow the safety tips at the end of this article) and it looks absolutely fantastic on a Halloween table!
Small watermelon (choose one that is a little oblong)
Paring knife or pumpkin carving tools
Large knife or vegetable peeler
Photo of a brain (to get a more realistic result)
1. Using the vegetable peeler or larger knife, slice off the top and bottom of the watermelon for easy peeling. Also make a slice at the bottom, where the brain will sit.
2. Peel the green parts of the watermelon, exposing the white-green flesh.
3. Make a long cut lengthwise down the center of the watermelon, and another right alongside at a slight angle, so that a long skinny piece comes out.
This is the brain’s longitudinal fissure, which separates the two hemispheres of the brain.
4. Section the brain into 3 sections from the top: the frontal, parietal, and occipital lobes. Underneath and to each side, make a section for the temporal lobe. Use the chart here to guide your cuts.
5. Continue cutting small sections of brain tissue, rounding off any pointy or square corners for a more realistic look.
6. Place your finished brain onto a spooky Halloween table and enjoy!
Knife Safety Tips
As you’re carving the watermelon, keep these tips in mind:
- Use a larger cutting board than seems necessary. It’s harder to cut if you feel crowded.
- Wear closed-toed shoes when you are handling knives.
- When carrying knives, always point them down towards the floor. NEVER run with a knife.
- When in doubt, ask an adult for help.