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A Trip to the Pumpkin Patch
No matter where you live, there is probably a pumpkin patch that grows and sells a variety of pumpkins for making yummy pumpkin pies or jack-o-lanterns. When it's time to pick up your pumpkins this fall, bring along your kids as part of a fall science study. Not only will they have a great time, they will learn a lot about how pumpkins are grown.
Bring your camera to the pumpkin patch and have your child photograph interesting things about the farm. Be sure to take pictures of many varieties of pumpkins. Ask the farmer if you are not sure where to find different varieties of pumpkins. Write down the names of the pumpkin types. You will be making a project later, and the names will be important.
Before you leave the pumpkin farm or patch, be sure to pick up an extra pumpkin for science exploration at home.
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Kitchen Pumpkin Exploration
Bring home a pumpkin for exploration purposes. You can make a jack-o-lantern from this pumpkin when you're finished, or use it to make a pie if you like, so no worries, the pumpkin won't be wasted. Cut open the pumpkin and have your child reach in and pull out the seeds. Notice the stringy texture of the pumpkin pulp. Point out where the fruit of the pumpkin is, and take a closer look at the seeds. If you have a microscope, take a closer look at a tiny string of pumpkin pulp. Notice the cellular structure of the pumpkin. When you're finished with your pumpkin exploration, why not roast some pumpkin seeds together and make a pie from scratch? This is a great way to show your child two wonderful uses for pumpkins. Finally, plant your own pumpkin seeds in a small pot and place in a sunny window. Help your child take care of the seedling, and watch it grow. You may not be able to grow a pumpkin in the window sill, but you'll get to see how the plant grows and what the vine looks like as a young plant. Dry out some of your pumpkin seeds to plant in the spring. Your child will love planting and caring for his own pumpkin patch.
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Science Pumpkin Project
Make a pumpkin booklet. Using the pictures of pumpkins from the pumpkin patch, the child will put together a booklet. Research together to identify characteristics of the pumpkin varieties represented in your booklet. Make a page for each pumpkin type, and tape or glue a picture of that particular type of pumpkin on the page. Underneath, have your child write a paragraph about that pumpkin, incorporating the research. Physical characteristics, what the pumpkin is typically used for, and areas where the pumpkin is grown can be included, as well as any other interesting facts your child might find out about the pumpkin. Staple the booklet and decorate the cover.
Homeschool science can be a creative and fun experience, and homeschooled kids have great opportunities to learn through field trips and one on one learning experiences. Why not take a trip to your local pumpkin patch for a homeschool science experience your child will remember for a lifetime!