If your new to the world of pumpkin carving, you don't really need anything hi-tech to carve your pumpkin, but you might want to pick up one of the Pumpkin Masters sets that include a few patterns and some basic carving tools.
The scoop is really helpful for scraping the side of your pumpkin to try and get rid of as many of the little strings as you can. These strings can become really annoying when they hang down preventing the light from properly shinning through any small cut-out sections.
The little poker/punch is really helpful for punching out your pattern to transfer it to your pumpkin. Because the punch is so small your hand might get quite cramped up if your pattern has a lot of detail, so make sure to stop every few minutes to stretch it out!
The carving knives that are included in most pumpkin carving sets are a simple jig-saw blade style edge, and because these are so small they allow you to carve very intricate areas that you wouldn't be able to manage with your standard kitchen knives.
Some extra items that you're going to want on hand include scotch-tape to attach your pattern to your pumpkin, some paper towels to dry it off as necessary to make seeing your pattern easier, a permanent marker or pen to "connect the dots" of your pattern transfer, and 2 bowls to empty your pumpkin contents into--one for the goop and one for the seeds! I also like to put some newspaper down on the table before I begin to make clean-up at the end that much easier!
Now... the kid friendly part! Older kids might be interested in helping you to draw a pattern on the pumpkin with a marker, and even older kids might be able to do some basic carving with close adult supervision. But what about the wee ones? They get the most fun job! They can help you scoop out all the pumpkin goop with a large spoon. Kids love the feel of the cold and slimy pumpkin innards and it's a great way to get them involved.
Do you use patterns when carving your pumpkins?
Or do you stick with the traditional Jack 'O Lantern faces?