Pumpkin Fun: Safe, Tasty, and Educational
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Fall is a fun time of year to explore nature—especially pumpkins. Here are some tips to help children stay safe and healthy while getting to know this great orange squash.
Visit a pumpkin patch
Children can enjoy some fresh air, learn how pumpkins grow, and choose a special pumpkin to take back to school. As with any field trip, be sure to
- Review your safety guidelines.
- Discuss rules with children. If they will be going on a hayride, remind children to sit down at all times.
- Bring a list of all the children on the trip, their emergency contact information, and their medications (such as an EpiPen for a child with allergies).
- Remind parents to dress their children for the weather and conditions on the farm.
- Bring along extra clothing to stay warm and in case of mishaps.
- Have children wear boots in case the area is muddy.
- Maintain the appropriate child-staff ratio at all times.
- Invite families or volunteers to act as chaperones, and assign specific children to each adult.
Explore pumpkins in the classroom
Children can use magnifying glasses to look at the pumpkins’ outsides and insides. They can hammer nails into the pumpkins or decorate them with paint or markers. During these activities
- Discuss safety measures before children begin their investigations. Remind them to keep materials and tools in the designated areas.
- Supervise children at all times to ensure they are using tools safely. Small group activities may work best.
- Provide child-size tools for hammering pumpkins. Teach children how to use them safely. Store tools in a locked container or closet.
- Make sure children wear safety goggles when hammering to protect their eyes.
- Place a rubber mat under tables to prevent sliding on messy surfaces.
Prepare a snack
Some children will enjoy removing pumpkin innards and most will want to taste the baked seeds. Before leading small groups in preparing a pumpkin seed snack
- Share the recipe with families so together you can identify children who may be allergic to any of the ingredients.
- Describe each step of the process and discuss safety guidelines. For example, explain that you and a helper will wear oven mitts when handling hot baking sheets.
- Remind children to let the seeds cool before snacking.
- Write a list of questions to prompt thinking and problem solving. For example, “What might happen if we planted one of these seeds?”