an early education learning space ~ where play equals learning

September 2, 2014
by countryfun

Pumpkins! Have We Got Pumpkins!

This year the pumpkin patch went just a bit crazy. We’ve had fun watching them grow over the summer. In checking over the weekend I found that about half the pumpkins had unexpected rotten spots. Those got left for the wildlife and the rest I harvested. They look nice lined up on the side porch where hopefully they will cure and be ready for passing out in Oct.

However, one had a couple of worms in the stem, so I decided it would be fun to explore it today before it rotted. What’s a little more heat in the kitchen on this steamy morning.

We’ll end up with roasted chunks for eating, puree for later use in soups and baked goods, and the best……roasted, slightly salted seeds for snacking!

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Top that off with all the spontaneous learning:

  • pumpkin life cycle
  • size comparison
  • sensory exploration
  • language development – huge, smooth, bumpy, sticky, wet……
  • counting
  • “P” and sound – other “P” words
  • fine motor
  • plant needs and parts
  • team work/cooperation
  • developing attention span
  • problem solving

November 18, 2013
by countryfun

Finishing Up with Pumpkins

We have finally finished up our lessons with pumpkins. Over the years I have found that pumpkins are great for learning about a plants life cycle and pant parts. There are so many uses for pumpkin and lessons can go in many directions. It all depends on interest and taking hold of opportunities.

This year there has been a lot of prior discussions on recycling, composting, and rotting. Now I know what a wonderful mess a Jack-O-Lantern turns into, but most children do not see theirs once Halloween is done. Our garden pumpkins were not great this year, but definitely good enough to do a bit of exploring with.

To top our lessons off I found this new book while on my lesson search. It was a perfect fit with it’s wonderful real photos and scientific information. For me this book was a non-fiction find, even though it’s story is told in 15 voices. These voices added to our discussions and knowledge gained.

Here’s the cover of this new book. Can you see why I knew it would catch the children’s attention from the start?


Here’s a quick look at our pumpkin observations over the last few weeks.

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November 6, 2013
by countryfun

Exploring Pumpkins Online

As part of our exploration of the pumpkin it was important to understand it’s life cycle. I have the paper sequence cards, the color sheets, etc., but I really like using youtube resources to support this type of lesson. The children are engaged observing, listening and questioning. They see all the stages in a short time period and can relate these to what was observed from our backyard garden.

Our first video is about the life cycle and shown for open discussion within the group. This one was chosen because it wasn’t about “Jack-o-lanterns”, but just the pumpkin.

The next video again shows the life cycle. There is a song accompanying the slides which involves the children in a totally different manner. We use a lot of singing to reinforce what we are learning. Music and children just go together.

By using these different videos, exploration of real pumpkins, books and paper activities we have a pretty solid understanding of a living items life cycle and needs for growth.

November 18, 2011
by countryfun

SPLAT! Smashed, Slimy, Smithereens

We had a really fun lesson on the life cycle of plants and what they need to grow using Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White. This is also a great book for working on predictions, cause and effect. 

To make our Splat!. I took put dribbles of orange paint and a little glitter on white construction paper and had the children fold and press. They opened, checked on what had happened and then folded in another direction. Had so much fun with the refolding I had to stop before the paper fell apart. They got some really great SPLAT!


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October 25, 2011
by countryfun

Halloween Week 2

We started off this last week before Halloween with some pumpkin lacing,   working on the concept of “next” hole as we went around the circle shape. Once laced we used torn paper to make our pumpkin “orange”. I was hoping the children could tear up their own paper, but it proved a real struggle for most of them. To finish they glued on pre-cut facial parts.    (To support your child’s skills let them rip up or tear junk mail, newspaper, or odd packing paper to start to get a tearing motion and not a grab and pull motion. We will be tearing up paper here as part of my recycling, so it will be fun and helpful while we work on this skill.)

This morning we also had activity centers where we used our tongs and Halloween pompoms or beaded Halloween pipe cleaners for witches’ and wizards’ wands.  

October 20, 2011
by countryfun

The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

We’ve ended up having a lot of fun with the books we’ve read this week. The finger play for Five Little Pumpkins – just love that Whoooooosh! and clap for ‘out go the lights’.  “Drat” was a favorite refrain with Big Pumpkin. The best was of course “BOO! BOO!” from The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything. Would you be afraid of this?

The last two books were both Halloween books that had a problem to solve and it took working together to solve it. It wasn’t about the biggest, or strongest. It was about having an idea that involved everyone working together. This can be such a hard lesson to get across to children. In reading these books and discussing them every day this week the lesson is being absorbed. I am really finding a benefit in developing a deeper understanding of the books we read following our 3 A Day version of the 5 A Day reading program. 3 books is definitely the right number for the age and attention point of the children in my group.

Our book expansion project was to build a scarecrow using the parts the little old lady meets in the woods while walking home.

We started with some cutting on the line practice - 

Then more glue stick work (we’re getting there). Last was to retell the story and glue down the pre-cut item in the color they chose.

As each piece was added the children glued their scarecrow part where they wanted.      

Think we ended up with some really incredible scarecrows. When I hung them up rather than going to the cubbies, there was a little anxiety that I was keeping them and they could not take home. I reassured them that they were going home, but I wanted to enjoy them until then.

That was ok.

Lesson details at Preschool Lessons.

(PS-The children keep repeating the actions of the scarecrow parts while playing the rest of the morning, so I wrote up, copied off and attached to each picture.)

September 20, 2011
by countryfun

Pumpkins Day 3

We started our morning off reading Pumpkin, Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington. I also had sequencing cards all run off and laminated to use as we read the story. I cannot find the original black/white source for these cards. When I do I will edit for the link.



Then it was into the kitchen. We learned about nutmeg today. Observed it in whole form and tried various ways to break it up to use in our recipe. Knife didn’t work. Scraping with a spoon didn’t work. Smashed with a hammer, which worked fine for the smell, but the pieces were too big to use. I got out my grater, which was explored. Decided the smallest holes would make the smallest spice, so I grated a whole nutmeg and sure enough we got our powdered spice.  

Oh She Glows had a simple pumpkin butter recipe that I adapted (used apple cider and no spices or sugar) to have with our pumpkin donuts recipe from bunsinmyoven. Since we used canned organic pumpkin that already had spices in it we adjusted the recipe a little. We just needed to figure out how to get it out of the can. Shaking? No. Hammer? No way! Take off the top – yes, but with what? (silence) Manual can opener. Easy to see how gears work.  We only added a strong 1/4 tsp cinnamon and 1/8 tsp fresh nutmeg. We also cooked our donuts with a mini donut sheet, not machine. Sampled one hot from the oven ~ should make a good snack.

Our song for today is based on “Ten Little Indians” ~

One little, two little, three little pumpkins.

Four little, five little, six little pumpkins.

Seven little, eight little, nine little pumpkins.

Ten little pumpkin in the patch.

Ten little, nine little, eight little pumpkins.

Seven little, six little, five little pumpkins.

Four little, three little, two little pumpkins.

One little pumpkin in the patch.

Inspiration for today”s craft project was from Kaboosse. I have made many stuffed bag pumpkins before, but I’m adapting the tendril and leaves idea this year.   Drying tonight, so will finish tomorrow.


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