Thursday, October 11

Pumpkin Days

I'm in the midst of planning a Pumpkin-themed week and thought I'd share what I have so far:

Letter:  Pp 
Theme: Pumpkins 
Rhyme: Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater 
Color:    Orange 
Shape:  Oval

Items needed: 
Various pumpkins, A scale, A cloth measuring tape
Orange Tempera
Toilet paper & old tubes, Craft stuffing, Fall fabrics
Pumpkin and Letter Pp Worksheets downloaded from

Watch It Grow Pumpkin by Barrie Watts
Pumpkin Town by Katie McKy
The Great Pumpkin Switch by Megan McDonald
Pumpkin Book By Gail Gibbons
Pumpkins by mary Lyn Ray
This is Not a Pumpkin by Bob Staake
The Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs
Pumpkin Pumpkin By Titherington
Berenstein Bears And The Prize Pumpkin
*Book Reviews at the end
Identify colors an images in the picture.
Discuss the rhyme in terms of what is real and fantasy. Is it possible to live inside a pumpkin?
Find all the letter Pp's in the rhyme text - have children circle all the letter P's in the coloring page version.
Discuss rhyming words in the poem: Shell & Well.
Act out: fell, yell, smell, tell…..ask for more words.

Various Worksheets
Color Pumpkin page or back of paper plate
Visit Pumpkin Patch
Decorate for fall
Make a toilet paper pumpkin (instructions to follow)
Make orange play-doh (instructions to follow)
Make Venn diagram comparing pumpkins to apples (studied in September)

Real Pumpkins
Guess/Measure the Circumference/Weight and compare to child’s circ./weight
Will the Pumpkin sink or float?
Guess # of seeds, Do all pumpkins have the same number of seeds?
Hollow out and count seeds – let children wash in colander and enjoy squishing.
What do the seeds and pulp feel like? Are the seeds hard or soft? Is the pulp sticky or slimy?
Roast the seeds
Bake the pumpkin while kids nap. Make puree*
Make muffins/pie

Questions for books: build a chart to compare
Who is doing the planting of the pumpkin seeds?
What kind of tools were used?
What will they do with the pumpkins?

Pumpkin Pie Playdough
What You Need:
* 5 1/2 Cups Flour
* 2 Cups Salt
* 8 teaspoon cream of tatar
* 3/4 Cups Oil
* 1 (1 1/2 ounces) container pumpkin pie spice
* Orange Food Coloring (2 parts yellow, 1 part red)
* 4 Cups Water

What You Do:
1. Mix all ingredients together
2. Cook and stir over medium heat until all lumps disappear.
3. Knead the dough on a floured surface until it is smooth.
4. Store in airtight container.

Pumpkin Puree
There are several methods for turning raw pumpkin into puree. I've tried them all, and prefer the oven method. I'll let you decide what works best for your family:

1. Oven Method: Cut pumpkin into quarters. Scrape off the stringy pulp and seeds. Place pumpkin, cut side down on a large cookie sheet or roasting pan lined with foil. Bake at 350ºF for one hour or until fork tender. Depending on the size of your pumpkin, you may have to do this in 2 or more batches. Remove from oven, place in colander and allow to drain -- you may want to press on the pumpkin mash to remove excessive moisture. Then follow the procedure for making puree below.
2. To Make Puree: Allow the pumpkin to cool enough to handle safely. Remove the peel with your fingers -- and use a knife to remove any stubborn pieces. Put the peeled pumpkin in a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Use the puree in any recipe that calls for for solid pack canned pumpkin. Freeze any that you don't plan to use right away.

Toilet Paper Pumpkins
1. Cut a piece of orange or brown fall fabric large enough to cover entire toilet paper tube with lots of extra.
2. Place toilet paper roll on the wrong side of the fabric swatch.
3. Wrap with polyfil stuffing to desired roundness.
4. Bring edges of fabric up and around the toilet paper tube and stuff into the top, creating lots of nice pleats.
5. Teacher can hot-glue the fabric in, but not necessary.
6. Cut an old toilet paper or paper towel tube lengthwise and roll up tightly to make a “stem”. Tape closed.
7. Wrap stem with green or brown fabric strips, ending at the bottom and taping in place.
8. Stick the stem in the hole at the top of the pumpkin. Again, hot-gluing in place is optional.

Getting fancy:
1. Cut fall garlands to have nice additions such as leaves and acorns to tuck in with the stem.
2. Add scent to the pumpkin by adding potpourri the center or scented oils to the polyfil.
3. Experiment with different shapes and sizes by using different brands toilet paper, cutting paper towel rolls down, and using more/less polyfil.

In the Kitchen

Pumpkin Books Reviewed:

Pumpkins by Mary Lyn Ray
Cute story of a man who plants pumpkins in a field and sells them so that he can purchase the field. It tells the story from start to finish and has pretty illustrations. It is a bit sillier than the illustrations would imply. My overly-guilt-ridden personality screams that it is so very wrong for him to plant pumpkins in a field that didn't belong to him and that any profits that came from said pumpkins would belong to the field owner, not himself. And if the field owner ever got wind of how much money he made on that field, I bet he wouldn't sell. Also, the pumpkins are shipped around the world via trucks, planes, and......flying carpets. Sure they were. The end does include a mentioning of Jack-o-Lanterns, in case you prefer to avoid these.

Watch It Grow Pumpkin by Barrie Watts
Awesome photographs of every stage in a pumpkin's life from seed to Jack-o-Lantern. I'd have preferred a picture of a pumpkin pie at the end, but the rest of the book is so good, I'll probably purchase our own copy. It was simple enough for the preschoolers to enjoy and understand, but interesting enough that my 3rd and 6th grader even enjoyed it.

Pumpkin Town by Katie McKy
A great story, loved by my whole family. Whimsical artwork and a good story about taking responsibility for one's actions. No Jack-O-Lanterns. Very fun.

The Bumpy Little Pumpkin by Margery Cuyler
I didn't enjoy this one much and the kids just thought it was okay. The older sisters are snotty. The story line is still cute. It is about a girl who picks out a bumpy, lumpy pumpkin even though her sisters think it is ugly. Her animal friends help her turn it into a jack-o-lantern and she is proud to display it with her sisters' more 'perfect' pumpkins on the porch. The storyline centers on the jack-o-lantern theme, Big Mama wears a purple witch hat, and the older girls are not so nice. Since there are so many good books out there, I prefer to skip the ones with snottiness in them.

The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons
This was good, as any other Gail Gibbons book I've read has also been. It also shows a pumpkin from start to finish, but also throws in a bit of history including Thanksgiving, Halloween, and All Saints Day. The Thanksgiving page mentions that the pilgrims "wanted to give thanks for the food they would have through the cold winter months." While I'm sure they WERE very thankful for food, this was not the purpose of the first Thanksgiving and I was a bit disappointed in this. The Halloween page has a picture of three men raising their arms before an altar of fire. It simply mentions that people used to believe "that ghosts, witches, and goblins roamed around that night. Some people built bonfires to scare them away." It ends with instructions for carving a jack-o-lantern and different ways to decorate it.

The Great Pumpkin Switch by Megan McDonald
This story had nostalgic pictures and was enjoyed by my whole family. The story included some mischief by two boys and includes their attempt to sneak something by one boys' sister. Nothing was done with purpose to harm and all turns out well, but they don't end up getting 'caught'. While not behaviour to encourage, it provided a short but interesting conversation on taking responsibility for your actions.

Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington
Beautiful illustrations. My preschoolers loved pointing out the different animals in each picture. Simple, but loved. A keeper here.

This is NOT a Pumpkin by Bob Staake
A fun board book if you don't mind jack-o-lanterns, which is the ultimate point of the book.

Pumpkin Patch Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs
I love Mrs. Higgs' parable books and this one was very cute. It uses a jack-o-lantern, not for it's historical purposes, but for a symbol of what God does for us up, scooping out the bad, and giving us a new face...a new, smiling face that shines full of light. Very nice.


Anonymous said...

You should take the kids to Ron and Pat Smyer's house. They have huge pumpkins in their garden.

The Chirgwin Family said...

I just discovered that you can click on your profile on "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and other people out there with the same info will appear. I enjoyed reading your blog and thought this might help with your pumpkin theme:

I loved this analogy for little ones while carving pumpkins talk with them about:

Being a Christian is like being a pumpkin.

God lifts you up, takes you in, and washes all the dirt off of you. He opens you up, touches you deep inside and scoops out all the yucky stuff-- including the seeds of doubt, hate, greed, etc. Then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside you to shine for all the world to see.


Jenn said...

Hey, Chirgwin! Thank you for reading! That is a beautiful analogy....I saw a book while I was searching that mentioned something somewhat similar, but I was leery of the jack-o-lantern angle. Hearing the whole thing as you've stated it though, sounds very cool!

Tiffany said...

I have a preschooler too and I am going to use some of these ideas. Thanks! She'll love it.

Christy said...

I love the theme! We start next week on a pumpkin and apple theme...I am borrowing some of your ideas!

I love theme studies, they are easier to plan and FUN

Jen in MS said...

Pumpkin playdoh! Sounds fun! I love making home-made playdoh and the kids love playing with it while it's still warm! Thanks for sharing the recipe!

e-Mom said...

Pumpkin playdough? What a great idea!

Thanks for visiting Chrysalis today.

Blessings, e-Mom ღ

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