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).
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.
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.
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.