Autumn is here! It’s a time for hayrides, leaf piles, and warm apple cider. One of the most ubiquitous signs of Fall is the pumpkin. Not only does every place sell pumpkins for carving and eating, but there is pumpkin flavored everything fever!
Why not turn this pumpkin invasion into a learning opportunity?
The best kind of learning is that which is hands-on, engaging, and organic–even if your pumpkin isn’t! The following projects explore the world of pumpkins in a way that is so much fun, the kids won’t realize they are learning! It’s a perfect project day or week long unit study for kids in preschool through second grade.
Pumpkin Story Time
Reading stories is an excellent way to learn and enjoy time together. These books provide not only enchanting text with gorgeous illustrations or photographs, but also lessons in math, geography, generosity, science, and more!
Gather a stack of books, snuggle up in your favorite reading spot and spend some time with these family favorites.
- Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington
- Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White
- Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin Pie by Jill Esbaum
- Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell
- How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow? by Wendell Minor
- How Many Seeds in A Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara
Growing A Pumpkin in Minutes!
Gardening is a wonderful way to learn, but it’s also very hard work. Also pumpkins being picked now were planted months ago. However that does not mean your child has to miss out on the wonderment of watching how a tiny seed become a large orange pumpkin!
The video below is a time lapse film of a pumpkins life. It begins as a planted seed in a patch of dirt and speeds through 104 days and nights to produce a beautiful pumpkin.
Some Pumpkin Science
Carving a pumpkin is a common activity in late October, however have you ever dissected one? It’s not as scary as it sounds. Turn your pumpkin carving tradition into a biology lesson with these easy steps.
Look at the outside of the pumpkin, what do you see?
Locate the stem of the pumpkin. It’s not just for carrying the pumpkin. The stem is the part of the pumpkin that attached it to the vine. Before there were any pumpkins, there were flowers, the stem is the base of a fertilized flower that grew with the pumpkin and connected the pumpkin to the vine which carried nutrients and water from the roots to the growing fruit. (Yes, pumpkins are fruit!)
Feel the outside of the pumpkin. How does it feel? Tap your fist gently on it. How does it sound and feel? The outer covering of a pumpkin is the rind. It is the hard shell that protects the insides of the fruit from the outside world. The rind has ridges or lines running down the sides, these are called ribs
Turn the pumpkin over. Can you find the hard, brown spot on the bottom? This is the blossom end. That is where the end of the flower connected to the stem. In very young pumpkins, the flower is still attached to the fruit. As the fruit grows, the flower withers and falls off. All that is left is this little spot on the bottom.
Cut your pumpkin open, to investigate the inside. This can be done in a traditional manner of just cutting off the top, but I recommend cutting it completely in half.
Inspect the inside, what is in there? The pumpkin is really a home and protection for the seeds. It helps them to grow and keeps them safe until they are ready to make their own plants. The seeds are connected to the pumpkin walls. The slippery strings that connect the seeds are fibrous strands. Each seed has its own. The strands bring nutrients and water to each seed.
Scoop out the insides and place them in a bowl. Look at what is left. This softer, thick orange mass between the rind and the seed cavity is called the flesh. The flesh is the part that we eat, it is also food for the seeds. Once the seeds are mature, the pumpkin and vine will begin to decompose (or rot back into the earth). The flesh provides fertilizer for the soil and food for scavenging creatures that helps the seeds to grow well the next season.
Separate the seeds from the fibrous strands. These seeds each can form a new plant and more pumpkins. If a pumpkin is not picked, they will be “planted” by animals that eat parts of the pumpkin and by the rotting pumpkin itself.
Cut open a seed. Locate the seed coat, the protective wall of the seed, then find the seed germ. This is where a new sprout will form, break through the seed casing and start the growing process all over, again.
My Mini Pumpkin Binder
Looking for more fun activities? Check out this free copy of My Mini Pumpkin Binder. It has printable activities that are great for little learners. Color, draw, create, and learn with a 7 page booklet of learning fun.
What is your favorite thing to do in Autumn?
Article By Jennifer From Aurelius Cabrini Homeschool Resource Center
Jennifer Elia, homeschool consultant, curriculum creator, blogger, and author, is Founder of Aurelius Cabrini Homeschool Resource Center which is dedicated to giving homeschool moms the tools they need to thrive in their home education career. Jennifer provides one-on-one consulting, personalized and original curriculum plans, and practical advice for those just beginning their homeschool journey, as well as those who just need a little boost. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and four children whom she has been educating at home for the past 10 years. When Jennifer isn’t busy researching the best curriculum solutions, she enjoys gardening, crafting, and writing. You can find Jennifer on Facebook and Pinterest.