Objective: Children will explore the parts of a pumpkin and understand that pumpkins are edible.
What You Will Need
- 1 pie pumpkin (these are a smaller and sweeter variety of pumpkins) per 10 children
- Vanilla yogurt (½ cup per child)
- Sharp knife (to cut the pumpkin)
- Microwave oven
- Measuring cups – ½ cup – 1 per 4 children
- Measuring spoons – 1 tablespoon – 1 per 4 children
- Large, microwavable casserole dish with a lid
- Sturdy plastic spoons – 2 per child
- Paper or plastic bowls – 3 per child
What To Do
Note: Do this lesson after you do the lesson, The Pumpkin and Its Parts, available on this website.
This recipe has a number of steps, but it is a wonderful way for children to see the original source of pumpkin puree (not from a can!).
- Invite the children to help you gently rinse the outside of the pumpkin in warm water and dry it off.
- Cut the pumpkin in half, and trim off the stem. Continue to cut in half until there are 8 sections. Cut the individual sections in half crosswise to make 16 pieces.
- Give each child a section of the pumpkin, a bowl, and a plastic spoon.
- Show them how to remove all of the seeds and stringy parts by scraping the inside of the pumpkin piece and putting them into the bowl.
- Place the scraped pumpkin pieces into the microwaveable dish, add a couple of inches of water, and place the lid on the dish.
- Cook for 15 minutes on high (do not leave unattended), then check to see if the pumpkin is tender.
- Cook the pumpkin pieces for another 5 minutes, then check them again. Repeat the process until the pumpkin is easily mashed with a fork.
- Let the pieces cool and give one to each child with a spoon and a bowl. Show the children how to use the spoon to gently lift and scoop the cooked pumpkin out of the skin and place it into their bowl. Throw the skin in the trash. Let the children use their spoons to mash the cooked pumpkin.
- Combine all of the pumpkin mash, and place it in the colander. Let any extra moisture drain out.
- Pour the pumpkin mash into the blender, and puree it.
- Have each child measure ½ cup of the yogurt and pour it into a clean bowl.
- Then, let each child measure out 1 tablespoon of the pumpkin puree and add it to the yogurt in their bowl.
- Give each child a clean spoon to mix the ingredients together and eat!
Guiding Student Inquiry
- Describe a pumpkin.
- Tell me what you think is inside the pumpkin.
- Describe what pumpkin tastes like.
- Can you name some foods that have pumpkin in them?
- Tell me where you think pumpkins come from.
- Describe how the inside of the pumpkin feels.
- Describe the inside of the pumpkin.
Explore, Extend & Integrate
- Create an autumn bakery in your dramatic play area. The children can color and cut colorful fall leaves to decorate the area. Provide the children with whisks, measuring cups, and spoons. Add cookie sheets, pie pans, muffin tins, aprons, and oven mitts. Include some empty spice containers, milk and egg cartons, empty flour boxes, etc.
- Blank index cards can be used for writing down recipes, and small shoe boxes can be decorated and used to hold the recipes.
- Don’t forget to add plenty of small pumpkins to the dramatic play area and the science center.
Check for Children’s Understanding
- Could children name the parts of the inside of the pumpkin such as skin, pulp, and seeds?
- Could children name the parts of the pumpkin such as the skin, stem, and vine?
- Could children understand that they can cook and eat parts of a pumpkin?
Did You Know?
There are many different types of pumpkins, and they can be orange, green, yellow, or white in color. Pumpkins are actually a type of winter squash. Winter squash is different from summer squash because of its thick, hard skin. Winter squash can also be stored for use throughout the winter; summer squash does not keep well. Most parts of the pumpkin are edible, including the fleshy shell, stem, seeds, and even the flowers! Pumpkins are very good for you; they are low in calories but high in protein, many vitamins, and nutrients.
Once it is ripe, a pumpkin can be boiled, baked, steamed, or roasted. In the United States, we use pumpkins to make things like pies, breads, and muffins. As a traditional part of the autumn harvest, pumpkins are typically mashed and made into pumpkin pie, pumpkin soup, and puree. Many cultures around the world also eat different parts of the pumpkin.
- pumpkin – a fruit that is big, orange, and round, with thick pulp inside that can be eaten. Pumpkins grow on vines.
- scrape – rubbing with something sharp or rough to remove something from a surface.
- cook – using heat to make food for eating.
- mash – crushing something to make it into a soft mass.
- puree – reducing food into a pulpy, uniform consistency; straining is a type of puree.
- seed – the little part of a plant that grows into a new plant; seeds can have flowers.
- This activity can be rather messy; you may want the children to wear smocks.
- Allow time to have the children wash their hands before and after the activity.
- The Pumpkin Patch by Margaret McNamara
- Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin, Pie by Jill Esbaum
- Patty’s Pumpkin Patch by Teri Sloat
- Pumpkin, Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington
- Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White
Content provided by:
Common Core State
These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge.
Important Legal Disclosures & Information
While we believe that the books and resources recommended may be of value to you, keep in mind that these are suggestions only and you must do your own due diligence to determine whether the materials are appropriate and suitable for your use. PNC has no sponsorship or endorsement agreement with the authors or publishers of the materials listed.
There are currently no Common Core Standards for pre-k, but these lessons are aligned as closely as possible to capture the requirements and meet the goals of Common Core Standards. However, these lessons were neither reviewed or approved by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices or the Council of Chief State School Officers, which together are the owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards.