Sunday, October 5, 2014

31 Days of Halloween - Day 5!

Another wonderful way to integrate science, art, writing and the upcoming holiday is to study the life cycle of a pumpkin. This is the absolutely best book I have ever seen on the subject. It is a very personal story of one boy who raises pumpkins, gives all of them away but one, and names his pumpkin Jack. Jack becomes a lovely jack 'o lantern but, inevitably, begins to go bad and gets tossed out into the now-empty garden where it continues to decay. The pictures show "Jack's" form curving inward on itself and beginning to cave in. It slumps down more and more until eventually it has mingled with all of the other decaying matter in the garden. 

This is a great discussion point for children who are sad to see their pumpkin go. Does anything good come out of their pumpkin turning into earth again? Well, yes! The next summer, the boy has a new bumper crop of pumpkins that all came from one pumpkin's seeds. He chooses a special pumpkin for himself and, of course, again calls it Jack.

It is a very hopeful and uplifting book on many levels. In just talking Common Core, there is the interaction that occurs between plants and animals, as I am sure some animals nibbled on what was left of Jack. There is the great cycle of life that can always be counted on. If you plant a seed, it will grow. Seasons will always follow seasons. This study is particularly meaningful if you have previously done a study of the life cycle of apples, because there is much repetition in the planting, growth cycle, and harvesting of both. 

Lesson Plan Ideas
1. Graphic Organizers on the Life Cycle of Pumpkins can be found on my Pinterest page October Ideas board (see link upper right).

2.  Listen to some gorgeous classical music (integrate the subject matter!)and watch a science video about the life cycle of pumpkins here:life cycle of pumpkins video

2. A cute idea that I have seen done is to hand draw a pumpkin template (or trace one if you need to) onto a manila folder. Cut 2 templates out of the one folder. Do this 3 times, so you have 6 templates to float around your classroom. Have the students trace the simple shape onto orange paper and cut out. Then have them draw 6 boxes in a circle along the edges of the front of the pumpkin, with arrows going from one box to the next. They must number, illustrate, and label each step in the life cycle. Have the words up where the class can see them, but do not put them in order. This project is important because using a nonfiction tool like making a label/being able to read a label is an important Common Core standard, even in first grade. Here are the words that you will need:

seed     sprout     vine     flower

green pumpkin       orange pumpkin

Of course the students will want to add a carved face to their project. You (the teacher, if you are one) can evaluate their work as a formative evaluation in science on the life cycle of plants. Aren't you smart!

Happy Reading! Till next time, Nancy


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