Posted by: jwhiff | November 1, 2012

Good Ideas for the Week #1: Squeezing All You Can From a Single Pumpkin

To continue the vegetable dissection theme I have been finding so successful, I decided (big surprise) to dissect pumpkins too.  Usually this is a big organizational affair with big buddies and parent volunteers.  This time, however, I focussed on a single pumpkin and took my time at each stage.

Stage 1: Washing the pumpkin.  It is fun to have a really dirty pumpkin to start.  I simply stuck the pumpkin in the water table with some eye droppers, cups and…voila!  It was an option at playtime and attracted 5 or 6 children who bathed that pumpkin until squeaky clean (and then some).  Ah…I added some mild dish detergent to the water as well.  Bubbles are always fun.

Stage 2: Gutting the pumpkin.  Again, I plunked the pumpkin in the water table, although did not add water.  I put some spoons, bowls and tweezers in the bottom.  This was less popular than washing  the pumpkin.  It still attracted children, but only a couple saw it through to the end.  Many could not handle the slimy guts and didn’t like the smell.  They separated the guts from the seeds.  I finished the final scraping.

Stage 3: Washing the pumpkin seeds.  There is something satisfying about handling a bowl of pumpkin seed with water added.  They are so smooth and slippery.  The children loved this too.  I put them in the water table (water included this time) and set out small pots, plates and bowls from the house centre.  The children loved using these in the house centre, making all kinds of dishes and an incredibly wet mess!  However, I have figured out to lay down newspaper on the table and floor before letting them go to it.  A much safer surface and a much easier clean up.

Stage 4: Drying the seeds.  I did this with as many rescued seeds as possible.  I used the classroom seeds for math and saved my own from home for the eventual seed bake.

Stage 5: Drawing on the pumpkin.  Into the water table again (dry)!  Put markers in the bottom and let them go to it!  Many added their designs.  Who cares how it looks?

Stage 6: Carving the pumpkin.  Again, I did this at playtime.  Those who were interested came by to help out.  I attracted 6 or 7 children for the job. We carved out as many shapes as we could identify.  Then a final wash and boy were they ever pleased with the end result!

Final Stage:  Math and seed snack.  I cut out some paper strips and had the children glue 10 seeds on each strip.  Early finishers did more than one strip.  We glued the strips onto chart paper and voila! This became their first introduction to counting by tens.  To my container of home-dried seeds, I demonstrated the addition of olive oil and salt.   Then into the oven they went.  I placed them out at playtime (I try to have a tasting table once a week).  Final verdict:  very tasty.

The only thing I would do differently is divide the dried pumpkins seeds into small containers with lids and let the kids help me prepare them.  They would have loved to shake up the seeds before popping them into the oven.

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