It is that time of the year when the weather begins to turn cooler, the leaves begin to give us a vibrate color display, and pumpkins are everywhere! It is a great time to take advantage of this abundance of pumpkins. Children are naturally drawn to pumpkins and the ability to carve these orange vegetables into creative Jack o’lanterns. There are many creative and exciting ways we can tap into the pumpkin craze.
Visit a pumpkin patch
Take a trip to your local pumpkin patch. This will allow the children a chance to see how pumpkins grow and explore the vines of a pumpkin plant. Take pictures of the pumpkin plant, leaves, and vines to make your own pumpkin book. Bring measuring tools such as a measuring tape or a ruler to measure the size of the pumpkins. You can also use things like yarn or paper clips to measure how tall and wide the pumpkin is.
Bring a plethora of pumpkins home
Every fall I would bring pumpkins of various sizes, shape, and colors home. Some of the pumpkins were white, or “ghost pumpkins”, while other pumpkins were white and orange striped. We had large bumpy pumpkins and small ornamental pumpkins. The children loved to sort the pumpkins in many different ways. They also loved trying to carry the big pumpkins around. Ask the children what differences they see and feel between all of the different pumpkin varieties.
Carve the pumpkins
No pumpkin exploration would be complete without carving the pumpkin. Many times, we would get pumpkins that still have dirt on the base. It is always fun to give the pumpkin a “bath” before opening it up and discovering what is inside. Before you start the carving process, have the children predict what might be inside. Connect this experience to their prior knowledge by asking if they have ever carved a pumpkin. “What did you find inside the last time you carved a pumpkin? Do you think we will find the same things inside this pumpkin?”
Observe the changes to carved pumpkins
As the Halloween season comes to a close, the spooky Jack o’lanterns will start to dry up and decompose. Allow the children to observe this pumpkin transformation. Consider putting the pumpkin in an outdoor location so that wildlife can access it and the children can observe what happens next! Take pictures of the changes that are taking place. Compare and contrast the changes in a carved pumpkin verses a whole pumpkin, how are they alike and how are they different? Just make sure to put the pumpkins outside to observe the transformations. Be careful of children with allergies because the decomposition could trigger an allergy.
Introduce pumpkin vocabulary words
Any activity we do with children allows us an opportunity to language model new vocabulary words in a context they can understand. There are so many big, wonderful vocabulary words associated with pumpkins that you can introduce to the children. Here are some of my favorite pumpkin vocabulary words:
- Jack o’lantern
There are so many ways to enjoy and explore pumpkins! What is your favorite pumpkin activity?