Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Toddlers Love Pumpkins!

There are so many fun things you can do with pumpkins! I think we probably could have (and maybe should have?) spent two weeks just playing around with pumpkins. (Be sure to check out our other fall themed activities!) Here are a few pumpkin activities we did:


Practical Life


Obviously the first thing you need to do if you're going to play with pumpkins is to buy some pumpkins. We had originally planned on going to a pumpkin farm to pick pumpkins, but it didn't happen. We went to a local garden store and let Madison choose a few pumpkins of different sizes. She wanted more pumpkins, so we talked about prices and how larger pumpkins are more expensive than smaller pumpkins, and how we had a limited pumpkin budget - haha. She also helped pick out some flowers to put in front of the house.

Cooking Skills 

Pumpkins are delicious and can be used for so many different things! We tried several different recipes, some of which were more successful than others. These Caramelized Pumpkin Seeds were pretty good, although M wouldn't go near them. I attempted this recipe for Apple Pumpkin Fruit Roll-ups, but I must have left them in the oven a little too long because the texture just wasn't right. Of course I had plans for a traditional pumpkin pie as well, but I opted for cookies instead and didn't want to have too many desserts around at the same time.

The Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies turned out really well - yum! M loves to help bake, and is starting to help me find ingredients, count and measure ingredients, transfer ingredients into mixing bowls, and carefully turn the mixer on and off.

Safety, Concentration, Precision, Decorating

We got a Disney Pumpkin Carving kit that came free with one of our recent Disney Movie Club orders (shoot me an email if you want me to refer you to join!). M chose Donald and Mickey for the two big pumpkins. She didn't actually help to carve the pumpkins this year, but she sat and watched me do it, and we talked about how to be safe with the carving knife, how to pay close attention to details and concentrate, and how to arrange the pumpkins on the porch when we were finished.


It's obviously not the right time of year to plant pumpkin seeds, but we put a few seeds in a cup of soil, watered them, and talked about what plants need to grow. We talked about some of the reasons that the pumpkin seeds wouldn't grow outside during this time of year. I put the seeds outside one sunny afternoon and accidentally left them outside that night, which probably didn't help their chances of germinating.... oops!


Painting Pumpkins

M had a lot of fun painting her pumpkin. She started coloring patches of different colors, then tried mixing some of the colors. We talked about how she could mix colors to make colors she didn't have (like purple). And of course, every pumpkin needs a little glitter!

Pumpkin Sensory Bag

I tried to convince M to stick her hand inside the pumpkins we were going to carve to help pull out the "guts," but she wanted nothing to do with it. She was interested in what was in there, but wanted a less messy option that wouldn't make her hands all slimy. I saw this Jack-o-Lantern Squish Bag on Fantastic Fun and Learning, and thought that would be the perfect solution! She loved it, and it allowed us to leave it out for a few days. She liked squishing it around, pushing the seeds around with her fingers, and seeing how the sunlight passed through the pumpkin but not the seeds. She also noticed that the seeds would drop down to the bottom of the bag on their own. We talked about gravity (that we had already discussed during our "space theme") and how it was pulling the seeds to the bottom of the bag.

(PS - M loved this Apple Pie Sensory Bin, which could very easily be converted into a Pumpkin Pie Sensory Bin. Maybe even try this pumpkin sensory dough!)


Reading About Pumpkins

As usual, we got some books at the library. We got some general books about fall and seasons, books about gardens and how crops grow, and a couple of books specifically about pumpkins. Here are a few of the books we read:

Mathematics / Science

Pumpkin Seed Observations

Pumpkin seeds are so much fun to play with! I put out a variety of measuring tools for M to use to explore the seeds. She looked at them closely with her magnifying glass, picked them up with her tweezers, filled a measuring cup to see how many would fit, and put some seeds in a cup of water to see if they would sink or float. I had some wet, "slimy" seeds as well as some seeds that I washed and dried so she could compare the texture of the different seeds. I also had a ruler and scale available if she wanted to measure or weigh the seeds. This activity could easily be done with all kinds of natural or synthetic materials (or different types of materials to compare). As she gets a little older, I will get her a "scientific journal" so she can start sketching or making notes about her observations.

Pumpkin Observations

I had no intention of actually allowing pumpkins to rot on my front porch, but that's what happens when it's 80 degrees the week before Halloween. We slowly watched Mickey and Donald's faces distort as the pumpkins molded and caved in. M thought it was pretty cool to feel the mushy pumpkins, and to look at the mold on the inside. We compared how hard the non-carved pumpkins were compared to the carved ones, and talked about why that might have happened.

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