We are officially in Autumn, and of course, with this season comes pumpkins! Here are few ideas on how to explore pumpkins in your program:
- Explore the outside of the pumpkin!
*Have children touch the shell and stem
How does it feels? Is it smooth, bumpy, hard?
What do you see?
What sound does it make?
What color is it?
Why does it have a stem?
- Explore the inside of the pumpkin!
*After exploring the outside, move to the inside. Carve out the stem and ask children to look inside, describing what they see. If they are comfortable, have them touch the inside, feel the pulp and seeds, describing this texture. Dig into the pulp and seeds by using a spoon to scoop it out. Ask children:
How does it feel?
What does it smell like?
What color is it?
What shape is it?
*For infants or children who are overstimulated with touching the raw pumpkin pulp, scoop the pulp and seeds in a freezer bag, glue the bag shut, and have them squish the bag
*With the pulp and seeds out, have the children separate the seeds from the pulp. As an added activity, have them count how many seeds they found
- Explore what happens after!
*Leave your pumpkin in a safe place inside or outside to observe the daily changes
*Ask children to notice the difference in color, texture, and smell
*Why is the pumpkin changing?
- Exploring taste!
* Rinse the seeds and lay them out to dry. Once dry, place them on a cookie sheet to roast. Have older children taste them (safety precaution choking hazard)
*Explore a pie pumpkin instead of a carving pumpkin, bake the pumpkin and have children try the pulp or use it to make a pie or cookies
Have a fun Autumn activity? Share your ideas with us at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the book The Last Child in the Woods, Richard Louv (2005) links the lack of nature in the lives of children to being part of a “wired generation.” He says attention disorders, depression (yes, in children), and obesity are all due to a “Nature Deficit.” This is an amazing book and a great resource for teachers. I encourage you to read it and bring more nature into your work with children
Kids love to dig and what’s more exciting than finding a Roly Poly? Supply the kids with shovels, magnifying glasses and bug containers and let them go to work. I purchased all of my supplies at the Dollar Store making it very reasonably priced. You could use recycled food containers and spoons found in your kitchen if you don’t have access to these materials.
Here are some fun facts about roly polies that you may not know:
- They are found in most regions of the world and live in moist dark areas, under rocks, bark, leaves and logs.
- They like to eat decaying plants or other vegetation. (What other creatures eat this type of food? Extend your science activity by setting out a fresh carrot with a rotten carrot and see which one the Pill Bugs will eat.)
- Pill bugs have three body parts, seven pairs of legs, two antennae and two eyes. They are ¼ to ½ of an inch in length and can roll into a ball when frightened. These are great facts to discover with your children. Bring out the magnifying glasses!
- Pill bugs are actually not bugs, they are crustaceans. They are related to shrimp and crayfish, breathe with gills, and need humidity or moisture to survive. You can explore other types of crustaceans with children as well.
- The pill bug goes through two stages of development: egg and adult. The female can lay up to 100 eggs, which are held in a pouch (like a kangaroo). After about two months as an egg, they hatch and emerge as a tiny adult. They grow by molting (shedding their skin) and can live up to three years. Good information to research with children. Try checking out a book about pill bugs.
You can explore habitats of all kinds of animals, bugs, or crustaceans. Try creating a roly poly habitat with children out of found materials. However, you also want to help children respect animals and their natural habitats. So make sure they know you ALWAYS put animals back in their natural habitats at the end of every day.
Some of the most magical experiences come from the simplest materials. Bring out some flashlights and see what magic explorations happen.
This experience supports development in several of the Early Learning Science Goals.
- Develop beginning skills in the use of science and engineering practices, such as observing, asking questions, solving problems, and drawing conclusions.
- Identify, describe, and compare the physical properties of objects.
- Begin to understand basic safety practices one must follow when exploring and engaging in science and engineering investigations.
- Use nonstandard and standard scientific tools for investigation.