We were a little disorganised this year and didn’t get our pumpkins until Hallowe’en. It seemed such a shame to throw them away almost as soon as we had made them. To avoid this the pumpkins were incorporated into our play, building on the children’s interest in pattern making and investigating some of the questions and discoveries they made when we visited the pumpkin patch.
One of the things I love about living here is that we don’t have to go to the supermarket to buy our pumpkins because there are pumpkin patches everywhere. I love that the children can find out how pumpkins grow by wading their way through the leaves and mud to find the perfect pumpkin.
- Exploring Inside a Pumpkin and Learning about Seeds
I removed the top of one of the pumpkins and gave the girls spoons to explore what was inside.
We talked about saving the seeds for the Spring, so that we could try to plant pumpkins in the garden next year. This lead to a discussion about how the seeds were spread.
How do the seeds get out of the pumpkin if they are in the pumpkin patch?
The pumpkin gets mouldy and then the seeds can come out.
Do you know how the seeds are spread?
What happens to a dandelion seed?
Where are the dandelions seeds?
The seeds are on the dandelion clock.
Oh so they get blown around.
Yes. Does this happen to the pumpkin?
We talked about how the animals spread the seeds – the girls thought it was a bit disgusting to talk about poo so we left it at that but later read ‘The Tiny Seed’ by Eric Carle to remind ourselves how other seeds are spread.
2. Scientific Experiments
How Does the Pumpkin get Soft?
I think we eat this bit because it’s all juicy but it is hard. How do we make it soft?
Hmm, can you think of any ideas?
I know we could make it wet and then dry it.
We could sprinkle it with soft sugar.
We could cover it with a bag.
After 30 minutes we checked to see what had happened.
It didn’t work, it just got wet on my side.
What about the sugary side?
It feels softer, the sugar is softer but the pumpkin is hard.
I asked the girls if they could remember how I made spaghetti squash soft (when I tried to cut it, it was so hard I cut my finger instead). They couldn’t remember. I said that they had been along the right lines when they decided to warm it.
How could we warm it?
Put it in the microwave
Yes that’s how I made the squash soft.
3. Paint a Pumpkin
We painted our largest pumpkin with acrylic paint. The acrylic paint remains shiny .
4. Make a Squirrel Feeder
With the painted pumpkin we made a squirrel feeder by removing a section at the front and sprinkling it with birdseed. We often have squirrels in the garden but this gave us a good opportunity to watch them close up.
5. Fairy Toadstools
Our garden is full of toadstools in this damp Autumnal weather and we have been exploring them to see if we could find any fairies.
Turning the top of the pumpkin upside down made a perfect fairy toadstool for our flower-pot. We are also going to watch and document what happens as the pumpkin starts to decay. It might make a nice art or photography project for the girls.
6. Pumpkin Poetry
I helped the girls to make up a poem about a pumpkin using some of the descriptions I had recorded them saying.
Pumpkins by my 5-year old
Pumpkins are very orange
Inside they have seeds
The seeds look like lemons
And feel slimy and cold.
Around the seeds it is orange and stringy
It looks like crazy hair.
The bottom is lumpy and chunky
I call it the core.
7. Pumpkin Juice.
I sliced and peeled the pumpkin we had been exploring and we used it to make pumpkin juice.
Ingredients (quantities according to taste)
Sprinkle with cinnamon.
8. Seed Collage
One of our current topics is pattern. We used the pumpkin seeds alongside other seeds and pulses to make collages.
9. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
As a healthy snack we tried roasted pumpkin seeds. Sprinkle with oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 25 minutes.
10. Mr Potato Head
We still have one small sweet pumpkin left to make into a pumpkin curry.
- Use the seeds for measuring in a balance scale
- Use the seeds in a play or mud kitchen
- Put a hollow pumpkin in the water tray
- Make pumpkin cookies
- Make pumpkin drafts or checkers
- Roll pumpkins down a hill and see which one reaches the bottom first.
- Give children trays of seeds with scoops and containers.
- Use the seeds with clay or pumpkin scented playdough.