It’s fall and a perfect time to study pumpkins!
First I read the class Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden by George Levenson and Shmuel Thaler, a lovely book about the life-cycle of a pumpkin. The photos in this book are gorgeous. We talked about the circularity of life.
Next I cut open a pumpkin at school and had the children identify the rind, the pulp, the stem, and the seeds. We then made little Montessori “Parts of the Pumpkin” books.
I explained to the children that we would not waste our pumpkin and we would be eating the pulp and the seeds. Several of them seemed somewhat aghast at the prospect.
I roasted the seeds in the oven at school so the children could enjoy the lovely smell and hopefully be more encouraged to try them! Only one child out of a class of twenty-five did not wish to try one, and of all those who tried, only two did not clamor for seconds and thirds. This was a huge hit!
I took the rest of the pumpkin home and made pumpkin bread with the pulp. That will be going to school tomorrow and I think all will enjoy it.
In the interest of scientific research we put some of the pulp and a few seeds in a tightly sealed jar. I labeled it with the date and placed it on the science shelf. I asked the children to predict what, if anything, would happen to it. A few predict it will stay exactly the same forever. A few said it would grow mold. I told them to inspect it every day to see for themselves.
(Next year we might try this clever version of the decaying pumpkin experiment!)
We also cut the top of a second pumpkin and filled it with dirt. We watered it and set it in a sunny window to see if the seeds would grow. I’ll report back on the results.
NOTE (added March 4, 2012): This turned out wonderfully! Please see the next post, What We’ve Been Up To for details and a photo of it now!
I dyed some pumpkin seeds red, orange, yellow, and green and set them out in bowls on a tray with some black construction paper. They have been making pictures and designs with them.
Finally, I put this simple pumpkin color-by-number on the shelf along with a laminated completed one to use as a guide. It has been popular.
(Oh, and we also painted pumpkins at our school’s annual Fall Festival!!)
ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS –
Rinse the seeds thoroughly and remove all pulp and strings. Spread them out and let them dry on paper towels. Put in the seeds in a bowl and add just a TEENY TINY bit of olive oil to make the seasonings stick (not too much, or they will be greasy). Toss to coat them in oil, then add seasonings and toss again. I use Jim Baldridge’s Secret Seasoning (yum!) but you can use anything you like, even just salt. Some people do cinnamon and sugar, however I like mine savory and have never tried this. Spread them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Try to spread evenly so very few overlap. Bake in a 250 degree (Farenheit) oven (this is fairly low heat for those who do not use Farenheit). Check them after 45 minutes, but they might take an hour to an hour and a half at this temperature to be done. They are done when crispy seeming and crunch loudly when bitten. NOTE: They might not brown much, but as long as they crunch, that is OK!
PUMPKIN BREAD –
- 1 and 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon kosher (ie. course) salt
- 1 and 1/3 cups sugar
- 1/3 cup canola oil
- 1 cup plus 1 and 1/2 tablespoons canned, unsweetened pumpkin (or fresh pumpkin pulp that has been boiled, or roasted in water and removed from the skin)
- 1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (Farenheit, a medium setting for those who do not use Farenheit). Grease and flour an 8.5 x 4.5 inch loaf pan. Sift together first 5 ingredients then stir in kosher salt. Combine sugar, oil, and pumpkin in a large bowl. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add egg, beating until well-blended. Gradually add dry ingredients, beating at low speed until blended. Pour batter into pan. Bake for about 1 hour and 5 minutes or until loaf is golden and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. (NOTE – I start checking on it early. It will be dry if you over-bake.) Let cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove from pan. Serve warm or at room temperature.