Monday, October 21, 2013

Pumpkin Palooza





I adore pumpkins. It might be the early childhood teacher in me, but I think they are just the perfect teaching tool. Not only do they welcome Autumn, but you can use a pumpkin in so many ways.
Many years ago, Josiah made this adorable Pumpkin lapbook. I really need to dig it out and take better pictures. We loved making it. 

I want to share with you a few of our favorite pumpkin activities we have done this year. My Dad had a bumper crop of pumpkins on his farm this year and we have been able to enjoy all manner of pumpkin projects.

We have actually done a pumpkin exploration a couple of times this year. I am currently teaching a Language Arts class every Thursday morning to Josiah and his buddy (and a few spares). We are presently doing some Fallish things and most recently, we had a bunch of pumpkin fun. 

Now this little class might have ages 3-11 in it on any given Thursday. The heavy duty learning we save for the big boys, but the little kids like to get in the mix from time to time. I didn’t get any pictures of this group's pumpkin exploration day. What was I thinking? There is nothing like a 3-year-old investigating pumpkin brains. 

I will share this activity. We created a silly How to Make a Pumpkin Pie story using this free download from teacherspayteachers.com. The kids really enjoyed this one…they wound up with some hilarious results!
Cory is reading his finished project. Cheetah eggs?

Courtney is working hard to write out her recipe. Her pumpkin pie recipe takes 60 years to bake! Oh, by the way. I was scarfing down that yummy spinach/artichoke dip. I just had to share.

Did you know that Pumpkin Pie tastes better with pizza in it? According to Josiah it does.

I will say that you can find lots of free handouts and activities (particularly for primary ages) at a teacher’s download store like Teachers Pay Teachers or teachersnotebook.com. I have found many usual and free (or almost free) resources. 

We have already done quite a few pumpkin projects and have them waiting in a little ziplock bag or notebook to add to a Fall Book we are making. 

This week Josiah and I are visiting my Mom and Dad’s farm. I brought out one of the last of the pumpkins to explore. 


This website has the appropriate names for all parts of the pumpkin.  

Cousin Chris does his magic with a butcher knife. When cutting a pumpkin make sure you use a sharp (and big) knife. 
 

And it's open! This particular pumpkin kind of pumpkin is a sugar pumpkin. It is typically used for pies. I generally use sugar pumpkins even when we use them for decorating or carving. I don't like to waste a good pumpkin. I use all of it.


The boys investigate the pumpkin. Actually, they both have done this countless times before. Just an thought. I might duck tape Chris to a chair and cut his hair. He's looking he's going for a David Cassidy look.


 Yup. See what I mean? David Cassidy.


Meanwhile (back at the ranch), I got a few things ready for the boys to make some pumpkin muffins. When I mean "a few"....I mean a few. The pumpkin is actually some my Dad put up not too long ago.


After the boys "gut" the pumpkin, they cut it up and put it in a pan of shallow water in the oven to bake. You can also bake a pumpkin in the microwave, but I think my parent's microwave is possessed. I had to have Chris make my bag of microwave popcorn earlier today...every bag I've tried to pop in the crazy thing has burned.

Now I like to give my pumpkin a whirl in the food processor after it's baked. I then put it in a ziplock baggie and freeze it. My mom and dad just chunk their pumpkin up and can it. The Pioneer Woman actually has a good tutorial on making Pumpkin Puree. 


While the pumpkin is baking, Chris and Josiah start making their pumpkin muffins.


I put the pumpkin seeds in a pan of salted water and boil for 10 minutes. Here is a good recipe for roasting Pumpkin Seeds. I plan on doing it later this evening.


To make the Pumpkin Muffins, Josiah and Chris mixed one box of cake mix and the jar of pumpkin in the mixer. That is it. Unless it is too thick and then you can add a few tablespoons of milk. You can use any flavor you like (though a strawberry/pumpkin does sound very appetizing). The cake mix my mom had in her pantry was one she had gotten at the discount grocery. The pineapple/pumpkin combination might sound a bit odd, but it was quite tasty. Whenever we use a chocolate or vanilla cake mix I will usually add cinnamon and nutmeg


I just had to take a picture of this muffin tin just before it went in the oven. I'm glad we aren't on Cupcake Wars or something like that.


I will also tell you that I only use cake mixes for recipes such as this one. This is something Josiah can do entirely with out my help. I personally am not eating real sugar or white flour at present. One of these days I will have to share a recipe for some yummy pumpkin bread made with almond flour. 
 

I am going to make a confession (or two). I did have a few of these muffins (product research).

I am going to have the boys bag them up and hide them from me. I took a 45 minute walk this evening, but I don't think that is going to help that much. Ding Dong it! 

I want to leave you with a few of other pumpkin odds and ends. 

One book we read every year is The Pumpkin Runner. We love it. So what if it is a picture book? So what if Josiah is almost old enough to shave? I will be reading it to him when he is 30. 

I also have a Pumpkin Pinterest Board. One of my favorite projects I did last year were these paper pumpkins. I wish I would have taken some pictures. They really turned out cute. They didn't make it in storage. When I brought them out this year they were flat. Sigh. 

We also really enjoy this pumpkin chili recipe. It's amazing how much richness the pumpkin adds to the chili. 

Enjoy those Pumpkins! 

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