Monday, October 31, 2011

A Final Farewell to Pumpkin Books and Activities: Pumpkin Pumpkin and The Pumpkin Book

Today is Halloween and October is coming to an end....and even though there is now snow on the ground at our house, I am doing one LAST pumpkin post.  I guess the pumpkin theme could potentially carry over into the Thanksgiving holiday as well, but after today, I promise to put the pumpkin books and ideas to rest until next year!

Two fabulous pumpkin books that we discovered recently and read were:

Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington

and

The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons

Both books tell of the life cycle from seed to pumpkin - so in that respect they make a great science lesson for little minds!  Pumpkin Pumpkin has much fewer words than The Pumpkin Book, so if your child is under 18 months I might try this book first.  The Pumpkin Book also tells of the traditions and cultural meaning of pumpkins and Halloween.  Although it is longer, it could easily be paraphrased for the under 3 crowd, and the photos are bright, bold, and interesting so young children (including baby bookworm) would likely find them captivating.

To go along with our last pumpkin books of the season, we did our last pumpkin learning projects as well!  Check it out:

1) We carved a jack-o-lantern.
  • To work in a little science lesson, we "dissected" the pumpkin, scraped out the pulp, and "examined" the seeds. I asked baby bookworm, "what do you think would happen if we saved one seed and planted it into the ground like Jamie in Pumpkin Pumpkin?" She did say it would "grow".
  • To work on our math skills, I asked baby bookworm to "estimate" or guess how many seeds there were inside the pumpkin (to which she responded 3).  Then we took a few handfuls and made piles of 10 seeds, and counted by tens.
  • To work on creativity, I let baby bookworm draw a face on the pumpkin with a pen (with my help) - then I used a pumpkin knife to carve out the face.  I did let her poke each piece out, which she found very fun. 



2) We played 10 "questions" (although some were statements) with 4 very different kinds of pumpkins that we had picked up over the past few weeks.  Basically what I did was I asked baby bookworm a series of questions such as the ones listed below.  It was a great way to practice listening skills, following directions, and for me to assess baby bookworm's receptive and expressive language. 
  • Can you show me which pumpkin is the biggest?
  • Can you show me which pumpkin has stripes?
  • Can you show me which pumpkin is the smallest?
  • Can you show me which pumpkins are round?
  • Place the orange pumpkin on the ground, and hand me the white pumpkin.
  • Place the smallest pumpkin in front of the largest pumpkin.
  • What color is this pumpkin (as I pointed to the white one)?
  • What shape is this pumpkin (as I pointed to a very round one)?
  • What colors are on this pumpkin (as I pointed to the yellow and green one)?
  • What is this part of the pumpkin called (as I pointed to the stem)?

Baby bookworm LOVES to show me what she knows, so we played many rounds of "10 questions".  She did very well with all responses too, but she did have some trouble with the two-step statements.

Obviously this game can be played with a number of objects, so give it a try!

3). We played a sequencing game. 
  • After reading both books, we made a picture time line of the stages in the pumpkin's growth cycle. 
  • I would say things like, "What happens after the seed is planted?"  (of course, baby bookworm needed help with the questions and I would always refer her back to the pictures in Pumpkin Pumpkin)
  • If your child is older, once you have your time line established, try mixing up your pictures and have him reorder them back into the correct sequence.
  • You can also try putting the pictures into the correct sequence, but leave one picture out.  Have your child guess what is missing.

  Remember, even though we did these activities with pumpkins - you can work on similar skills with different objects and books.  And any of these activities could be modified easily to fit your child's age and
ability level. 

Can't wait until next pumpkin season already!
Happy Halloween and stay safe!

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