“Talking about pumpkins does not make them grow.” ~ African Proverb
For me October is always an inspiring and festive month. Thanksgiving provides the opportunity for me to reflect on my many blessings, and of course there is participating in all of the fun building up to October 31st. There are many songs and rhymes to be enjoyed at Hallowe’en; the children in my class voted the counting rhyme One Little Skeleton their
favourite song! Of course the emphasis in the curriculum can take many directions at this time of year. This fall we put a special focus on planting seeds and making discoveries about the life cycle of plants. The inspiration for this learning experience came from reading Pumpkin, Pumpkin, a charming picture book by Jeanne Titherington. I think picture books can be a great launching point for curriculum building, and this lovely story describes the growth of a pumpkin in simple language and introduces children to the different parts of the pumpkin (e.g., seed, sprout and flower).
To extend and enrich our reading experience, the children planted three types of
seeds, including pumpkin, bean and sunflower. Although, in the end, only the beans sprouted, the children were encouraged to predict how long it would take for the seeds to sprout, and they have all participated in watering the seeds each day and placed stickers on a chart to enable them to count each day that they did this. In order to deepen our understanding of how pumpkin plants grow we watched a couple of short videos, one of them a Time Lapse of Pumpkin Vines Growing and the other The Life Cycle of a Pumpkin. These were of great interest to the children because it gave them much more information and vocabulary to add to their inquiry about pumpkins.
This learning experience which has emphasized numeracy, language and literacy, and natural science has of course also included an arts component! Children made collaged pumpkins and they drew wonderful self portraits so we could create a bulletin board of children walking through a pumpkin patch, an idea prompted by the song That’s How a Pumpkin Grows by Brian Vogan. The children particularly liked watching the pumpkin in the video running around in the background! Children also drew amazing pictures that represented their understandings about plant growth and their thoughts were documented. I don’t mind saying that this past month has been a particularly creative one, thanks to inspiring images, songs and hands-on experiences that have truly brought planting to life for young children and have allowed them to learn in a variety of ways. And thanks to the children for their curiosity, their enthusiasm and their ceaseless creative energy. I hope the ideas you find here help interesting learning experiences to grow and flourish in your homes and classrooms, with your children.
“Being an artist is like planting a garden – plant the seeds and see what sprouts.” ~ Bob Ragland