Pumpkin Mania: Part 2

Standard

The second part of our pumpkin adventure was getting to the good stuff: the ooey-gooey insides! This sensorimotor experience is fantastic for all ages. As an adult partaking in the experience, I was surprised by how cold, wet and stringy it was. I was also surprised my daughter didn’t make more of a mess (I dressed her in old clothes and proactively covered my floor, expecting an orange explosion).

gutting1

This is also a great time to introduce more refined vocabulary and concepts or apply the ones you have already explored in your readings together. Use all five senses to interact with your pumpkin. The depth of your conversation will depend on your child’s age and their predisposed interests.

  • What do you see? Does the inside of the pumpkin look the way you thought it would? Does it remind you of anything? What colours are inside? What shape is it?
  • How does it feel? (Note: If your child uses an adjective like “gross” or “disgusting”, probe them further. Why is it gross? What makes it disgusting?) This is also a good time to contrast this fresh raw pumpkin to other forms you may have seen (in the previous post, there was a picture of my daughter touching the inside of a smashed pumpkin at the corn maze. That pumpkin was dry and hard since it had been laying in the sun for a while). Is it heavy? With older children, you can also estimate how much it weighs.
  • How does the pumpkin smell? Does it remind you of anything?
  • How does it taste? (you may have a child brave enough to try this one)
  • How does it sound? It may be interesting to compare the sound when you knock on the pumpkin, pre and post-gutting.

gutting 2

You can also use this time to draw on other areas of learning. My daughter is particularly interested in fine-motor activities and numeracy – she enjoys handling small items one by one, making the seeds ideal for counting. With older children you can estimate how many seeds you think are inside of the pumpkin or estimate how many seeds are in one fistful. The nice thing about this approach is that you can count the seeds and adjust your estimate before trying again with the next fistful. If you have multiple pumpkins, you can work on sequencing (ex. arrange them by biggest to smallest etc.)

The next thing we did was wash the pumpkin seeds (we intended on toasting them later). My daughter has washed things in a basin on the floor before, but this time I decided to pull up a chair and let her stand at the sink. She was super excited for the change in view.  Most toddlers love to play in water. To provide more sensory variation, you can adjust the temperature of the water, vary the force, and change the flow to the shower setting if your faucet has this feature.

gutting 3

Next, we lay the seeds out on a kitchen towel and allowed them to dry until we were ready for the next experience, a few days later.

Pumpkin Mania: Part 1

Standard

As promised, new fall content! I’m super excited about this four-part series since it was emergent curriculum in action. One outing blossomed into many experiences, providing my daughter with rich opportunities for hands-on learning. I hope our projects can inspire and encourage you to see the wonderful potential of pumpkins.

It started a few weeks ago when a dear friend asked us if we would be interested in going to a local Calgary gem: Cobb’s Corn Maze and Family Fun Park . While corn season was over, the place was full of pumpkins!

I thought it would be a fantastic opportunity, and so our learning journey began. I introduced my daughter to the following books (from my personal/professional library) and they became instant favourites. We’ve been reading about pumpkins daily for the past few weeks.

photo 4

These books were all ordered through Scholastics during my time as a preschool teacher. “This Pumpkin” is part of an excellent science-based series for young children. I will do a blog post to cover this series and its merits at a later time.

Each of these books was a non-fiction choice, full of real photographs. The language and concepts in these book prepared my almost two year-old daughter for the play that lay ahead. When we finally make it to the library, we will look for some more (fiction) books that tie into the ideas we have been contemplating.

photo 3

Our trip took place on a gorgeous day! We didn’t have a lot of time to spend, but my daughter was elated to climb and sit on pumpkins.

photo 1

We came across some smashed pumpkins and she curiously poked around. From our reading, she knew that pumpkins had seeds inside.

photo 2

There were also pumpkins for sale, so we brought one home to continue our learning. Later that week when we went grocery shopping, we saw all sorts of pumpkins for sale. I handed this one to my daughter and we talked about how small and bumpy it was. (Yes, those are bite marks. My daughter decided to take a bite while I turned around. She didn’t like the taste much).

photo

Our pumpkin sat on the kitchen table for a week before we got to do anymore hands on work. In the meantime, we continued exploring the books, talking about things we may be able to do with the pumpkin.

 

 

Fall in Full Swing

Standard

Fall is such a fantastic time, and a great opportunity to naturally engage your little ones. Below are some interactive experiences you can partake in before Autumn comes to an end.

photo

(This post is a repost of pictures from our facebook page last year. We hope to have some new fall content soon!)

Fall Scavenger Hunt

Simply copy and paste this image to a word document and print it in full size. While a printed list works great for older children, a visual representation this helps younger children who may not have the vocabulary or concepts yet. It also works well when developing vocabulary in a second or third language (this is how we are intending on using it today).  It’s an easy way to enrich a walk or to spend some time together as a family.

10420030_706093179498484_2681905186333670080_n

Craft and Create

You can bring along a bag or bucket to collect some natural items while you are out on your walk and bring them back home to create scenes, collages or other artwork. Here are some animals (and a flower) I fashioned out of leaves, twigs, rocks and pinecones. I am curious to see what my two-year old will come up with!