Activity Inspiration: Pumpkin Bowling

28 Oct

Just a few more days until Halloween arrives! I love bringing out my spooky songs and activities at the end of October, but found myself faced with a new challenge this year. Though many of my music therapy groups are getting excited for dressing up and trick-or-treating on Thursday, I learned that some of my clients and their families do not celebrate Halloween.  I believe that no matter what the setting, clients are often more motivated and subsequently, more successful, when the environment presented to them is inviting and inclusive. I headed straight back to the drawing board and had a blast developing some new activities that are accessible and enjoyable for all of my clients.

I always make an effort to utilize a range of seasonal themes in the fall such as the harvest, apples, leaves, acorns, corn and pumpkins, many of which also serve as an appropriate thematic substitute for Halloween songs and activities. This week, I’d like to share a simple and highly engaging fall activity that my clients keep requesting again and again: pumpkin bowling! This activity gets everyone up and moving, as well as promotes goal areas such as turn-taking, group engagement, teamwork, and gross motor skills.


  • 6-8 empty tissue boxes
  • 6-8 pumpkin images (cut out)
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • 1 ball (bonus points if it’s orange!)
  • 1 place-marker
  • Thematic recording: “Bowling is My Kind of Game” (Asleep at the Wheel)

Tape one pumpkin image on each tissue box…AND THAT’S IT! How easy is the prep work for this activity? Stack your pumpkins in a pyramid, demonstrate rolling the ball on the ground for your clients and invite them up to take two turns to knock all the “pumpkin pins” down. If your clients need a visual to help them know where to stand when rolling the ball, draw a line with tape or put a place marker down.


I use a fun bowling-themed song to add some musical support to this intervention because I usually need my hands free to help clients stand, sit and roll the ball. I can guarantee that “The Bowling Song” by Asleep at the Wheel will be a hit with your groups. Take pumpkin bowling one step further by adding your own original song or playing this song live!

Additional adaptations of this activity may include:

  • Expanded goal areas:
    • Social Skills: After each turn, client must answer a social question
    • Fine/Gross Motor: Have each client re-stack the pumpkin pins after their turn
    • Creative Self-Expression: Have each client decorate a pumpkin and tape it on a tissue box. Now your group has made their own pumpkin bowling pins!

I have a feeling that many therapists, teachers and community groups also face this scenario each year for a number of holidays, so I would love to hear about some of your non-holiday specific seasonal activities!

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