The Great Pumpkin was introduced to fans of the funny pages in 1959 by Peanuts artist Charles M. Schulz. It was turned into a cartoon in 1966 and became a staple of the fall season. As all the Peanuts gang enjoys a Halloween party and goes trick-or-treating, Linus waits in the pumpkin patch for the Great Pumpkin to rise up and bring toys to the children who believe. The holiday tale also includes appearances by Snoopy as the Red Baron, Schroeder on his piano and a homemade ghost costume.
Linus might never see the Great Pumpkin and Charlie Brown is still the world’s unluckiest trick-or-treater, but the lessons of the brief cartoon hold more than 50 years later. Here are a few topics to discuss with kids:
- Known when to fold ‘em. Linus waits for a long time (A. Long. Time.) in a pumpkin patch waiting for the Great Pumpkin. Explain that it’s OK sometimes to try a different tack to make your dreams happen. Kids aren’t necessarily giving up their dream by changing direction, but if Linus wanted to see the Great Pumpkin, what else could he have tried since sitting in the patch didn’t work?
- Life will hand you a rock. Not every house is giving out King Size Hershey bars, and sometimes we need to lower our expectations of what’s to come. It’s good to know that not every house is giving out rocks, either. Be realistic about what you want and what others can give.
- Have faith in your convictions. He may have been tilting at windmills, but Linus was steadfast in his belief that the Great Pumpkin would rise out of the pumpkin patch. He waited. And waited. And waited. No one, not his sister, his friends or his young love, could convince him otherwise. Those kinds of strong beliefs are also the sort that help kids to stand up to bullies and for their convictions. So even though Linus never saw the Great Pumpkin — even as late as Charles M. Schulz retired the Peanuts comic strip in 2000 — he also never gave up believing.
Now that you’ve seen It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, try these screen-free activities inspired by the movie.
- Make your own Charlie Brown costume. Charlie Brown had a catastrophe with a sheet and a pair of scissors. Your kids can use black construction paper or black felt to make their many “holes.”
- Color your favorite scene. Download one or six of these coloring pages from the movie and get to work recreating the art of your favorite scene.
- Craft Snoopy & Charlie Brown. A couple of paper plates and some imagination is all you need to craft the heads of Snoopy and Charlie Brown.
- Try out Halloween Mad Libs. A good Mad Lib is the stuff of road trip lore. In this case, kids just learning their parts of speech (bring on those nouns, verbs and adjectives) can create their own stories about fall fun and Halloween.
- Create a Great Pumpkin watching menu. Cook a meal with the Peanuts characters in mind. Use some of these menu options from the “Not So Usual” blog to get your creative juices flowing, and let the kiddos lend a hand.