Monday, October 24, 2011

Outdoor Adventures: Pumpkins by Erin Uda

This week, try to visit a pumpkin patch with your children to see where the bright orange gourd is grown. Look at all the varieties; shapes, sizes, colors. Pick your own if you can and take it home to decorate.

Did you know pumpkins are related to cucumbers? On your way to the pumpkin patch, you might want to play a quiz game using some little-known facts about pumpkins. Print out the following facts:
  • What kind of vegetable is a pumpkin? Trick question. A pumpkin is a fruit; specifically, a squash.
  • How many continents do pumpkins grow on? Pumpkins grow on 6 out of 7 continents, even in Alaska!
  • What is the (self-proclaimed) pumpkin capital of the world? Morton, IL (This is also the corporate base of Libby’s Pumpkin.)
  • Who was the first person to carve a pumpkin? The Irish. They originally carved turnips for All Hallow’s Eve, but when Irish immigrants found pumpkins they liked carving them better.
  • Is the orange part of the pumpkin the only part you can eat? No. Pumpkin flowers are also edible.
  • How big can you make a pumpkin pie? The biggest pumpkin pie ever made was over 5 feet wide!
  • How much water is in a pumpkin? Pumpkins are 90% water; watermelons are 92%.
  • Are pumpkins healthy for you? Yes, before we add sugar! Pumpkins have Vitamin A and potassium, plus fiber.
  • What is the most famous pumpkin vehicle? Cinderella’s chariot.
  • How much did the biggest pumpkin weigh? The heaviest pumpkin weighed 1,140 pounds
Or you can study The parts of a pumpkin together!

There are many other fun fall activities, like hay rides, farm visits, and corn mazes. If you don’t plan to visit one of these venues, try making your own this week:

Corn Maze: Make your own maze in your backyard. Bring some kitchen chairs outside and arrange them in a winding pattern; backs facing backs to form a path. Cover them with blankets (either over just the chair, or over the top as well) and you have a simple maze.

Hay Ride: Break out the wagon and take your little ones on a tour of the neighborhood. Keep an eye out for fun porch decorations and decide which houses you think will be the most fun to visit next week. Better yet, let them wear their costumes on the ride.

Petting Zoo: All these farm activities make me feel the need to find a petting zoo. If there isn’t one close to where you live, try to find an inexpensive alternative. There may be a horse pasture relatively close, or a pet store or breeder who wouldn’t mind having you visit the animals.

Recommended Reading:
  • It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!, Charles M Schultz
  • Pumpkin Jack, Will Hubbell
  • Too Many Pumpkins, Linda White
  • The Runaway Pumpkin, Kevin Lewis
  • Big Pumpkin, Erica Silverman
  • The Night Before Halloween, Natasha Wing

P.S. A side note from Naomi: I just added a new tab at the top-left of the page called "Calendar". If you go to it, you will be able to see all the themes and activities I am planning for each week. Click on an activity and get some ideas of how to do it yourself. If you click on today's date there will be several links for fun pumpkin carving ideas. Enjoy!


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