What’s in a Pumpkin?
Halloween is right around the corner…
If your family celebrates this holiday, your child is likely thinking about costumes and candy, while you’re probably thinking of ways to keep the evening fun without a total sugar overload. Whether or not you participate in Halloween, pumpkins are a fun symbol this time of year. This nostalgic squash can be found everywhere in October, and there are so many fun ways to use them with your children. Read on for inspiration...
Visiting a Farm
If you have a local farm that grows and sells pumpkins, you are in luck! Not only is a trip to the local pumpkin patch a traditional autumn activity, it provides kids with an opportunity to learn about the source of pumpkins. Instead of thinking we just buy them from a store, they will have exposure to the very place that plants the seeds and grows them. This will offer them a sense of connection and an appreciation for the people and plants involved in the process.
Life Cycle Learning
While it may be too late to grow your own pumpkin patch, there’s still plenty of time to teach our kids about the life cycle of a pumpkin. You could have a formal discussion about it, or just ask questions informally while you pick pumpkins, while you carve jack-o-lanterns, or during any other pumpkin activity. Some ideas:
Where do pumpkins come from?
How do pumpkins reproduce/make more of themselves?
Where do the seeds come from?
What color are pumpkin flowers?
How do pumpkins grow?
What do they/plants need to grow?
How long does it take a pumpkin to grow?
What happens when a pumpkin’s life cycle ends?
Check out this free pumpkin life cycle printable booklet if you’re looking for something to make together at home: https://teachingmama.org/pumpkin-life-cycle-booklet-free-printable/
Cooking Up Some Fun
Round up the kids and head to the kitchen! Cooking with children is fun, gives them a way to contribute to the family, and teaches them valuable life skills that they will hold onto forever. (Plus you can always sneak some math in!) Whatever your own personal culinary skill level is, there are options for everyone.
Want to keep it simple? Hang onto those seeds and roast them for a delicious (and super healthy) snack. These tiny treats are full of magnesium, fiber, protein, and lots of other beneficial nutrients. And they couldn’t be easier to make. Try this recipe for crisp, flavorful seeds - https://www.tasteofhome.com/article/roast-pumpkin-seeds/
Are you a baker? Skip the canned puree and try your hand at this pumpkin pie from scratch -https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/nancy-fuller/from-scratch-pumpkin-pie-2251073
If your family loves cheesy pasta, this pumpkin and tortellini dish will be a hit - https://www.rd.com/food/recipes-cooking/vegetable-recipes-cheese-tortellini-with-pumpkin-ricotta/
Looking for a recipe that’s way outside the box? Try pickled pumpkin! https://www.rd.com/food/pumpkin-pickles-recipe/
Sing a Song
“Five Little Pumpkins” is a classic song written by Raffi Cavoukian and Kenneth David Whiteley. It’s short, sweet, and simple for little ones to memorize. Below are the lyrics and a link to hear Raffi’s version of the song:
Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate
The first one said, “Oh my, it’s getting late.”
The second one said, “There are witches in the air.”
The third one said, “But we don’t care.”
The fourth one said, “Let’s run and run and run.”
The fifth one said, “I’m ready for some fun!”
Ooooo went the wind and out went the light
And the five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.
Squeeze in Some Skills
Did you know that in many Montessori classrooms it’s common to have a large stump that children are able to hammer nails into? This is great practice for motor skills and coordination, but did you know you can put a seasonal spin on it? Use a large pumpkin, a hammer, and either nails or golf tees to let your 3-6 year old have some fun. The nails can be taken out and used over and over again, much to the delight of little ones.
For older children, estimation and measurement are skills that can be naturally practiced while enjoying pumpkins. You might estimate the weight of a pumpkin or how many seeds are inside, then have fun finding out. More measurement activities could include determining the height, width, or circumference. Parents can develop real-life math skills by creating oral word problems on the spot. If there are four people in your family, each person wants to carve a pumpkin, and they cost $6 each, how much will you spend? And will your child even realize they’re doing multiplication? Spoiler: as a Montessori child, they probably will realize it, and they will probably love the opportunity to have fun with numbers!
Hopefully we’ve given you plenty of pumpkin inspiration after reading this post! Before we end, we’ll leave you with a joke that will make the kids chuckle…
Q - What do you call a pretty pumpkin?
A - Gourd-geous!