Thinking of visiting a pumpkin patch with children this fall? Great idea! Visiting a pumpkin patch is a fun and educational activity. Children visiting a pumpkin patch learn about a variety of topics including plants, animals, and vehicles. Additionally, visiting a pumpkin patch provides children with a shared learning experience that can fuel many future conversations and activities.
In this blog we will discuss:
- preparing for a trip to a pumpkin patch
- how to facilitate learning during the trip
- fun ways to extend the children’s learning afterward
Preparing children for a trip to a pumpkin patch
Introduce the topic by showing children a small pumpkin and reading books about how pumpkins grow. Additionally, during circle time, view Google maps in your area and point out places nearby that grow pumpkins. Ask children if they would like to go on a fieldtrip to pick some of their own. They will certainly enjoy picking them fresh off of the vine!
Give parents ample notice of the upcoming field trip so they can plan to accompany the group if they are interested.
Above all, schedule your trip to maintain the children’s usual routine for naps, meals, and snacks.
Many pumpkin patches have created short video tours for the purpose of giving guests a preview. Search for a YouTube video tour of a local pumpkin patch for your group. Pause frequently while viewing the video to discuss the children’s interest or concern. A preview opportunity can help reduce anxiety for children with autism spectrum disorder and others who may not have been on a field trip before.
Ask children what they see in the video that they expect to see on their field trip. Ask what they would like to learn more about. This discussion helps set targets for learning and discovery. Make notes of children’s predictions and comments to review as a group after the trip.
On the days leading up to the trip, mark your calendar with a symbol children recognize (a bus or a pumpkin). Incorporate a “countdown to field trip day” into your circle time routine. Review the trip itinerary and safety procedures. Provide children with opportunities to practice any unfamiliar routines such as walking with a peer partner while listening for instructions, and safely boarding and being seated in a bus or van.
Learning at the pumpkin patch
As your group enjoys exploring the pumpkin patch, facilitate their learning by asking questions and making comments.
- Point out the different kinds of plants. Are pumpkins growing on a vine, stalk, or tree?
- Visit the farm stand. The farmer or guide may explain which plants produced the ingredients used to make jars of preserves, applesauce, and cider. This is a great opportunity to ask children to think of other foods they eat that come from plants.
- Do you see a barn, chicken coop, or pen? Name the animals and the structures that contain them. Discuss the characteristics of the animals. How many legs do they have? Do they have fur or feathers?
- How many different shapes, colors, sizes, and textures of pumpkins do you see? Ask the children to describe their pumpkins and to explain why they picked the ones they picked.
Extend children’s learning beyond the Pumpkin Patch
Review the notes you took during your pre-discussion when you return to your classroom. Ask children if they saw what they had predicted and if they saw anything unexpected.
Offer some additional activities to extend their learning after the pumpkin patch field trip.
- Class Book: Children can create drawings of things they remember from the trip and dictate descriptions for you to write on their illustrations. Use these pages to create a class book about the field trip. For example, you could feature this book in your literacy center.
- Pumpkin painting: Offer children the opportunity to paint and decorate their own pumpkins.
- Jack-O-Lantern design: 🎃 If children would like to have their pumpkins carved into a jack-o-lanterns, explain that for safety reasons, only adults can use carving utensils. But children can create the designs and scoop out the seeds! For instance, they can draw directly on the surface of their pumpkins with a marker, or on paper that can be used as a carving stencil.
- Pumpkin Seeds: Provide the opportunity for children to compare the size of pumpkin seeds with other seeds. Roast the pumpkin seeds to provide children the chance to taste something new.
- Sink or Float: Provide a container of water in which children can test their pumpkins’ buoyancy. Do the pumpkins float? What about a carved pumpkin? Compare the buoyancy of apples and other fruits and vegetables.
- Pumpkin Rolling: Take some pumpkins outdoors and have a pumpkin rolling activity to compare which ones roll the farthest and the fastest. During this activity, children can use measuring sticks or non-traditional units of measurement (such as blocks, or their own footsteps) to compare the distances. They can even experiment with the use of a simple ramp to get their pumpkins started. Let the good times roll!
Last but not least, try creating a …
Gardening Center! Plant some pumpkin seeds and other fruit or vegetable seeds in your indoor or outdoor gardening center. Children can help plant and water the seeds, and track the growth of any seedlings that happen to sprout.
Want to learn more?
For more ideas about activities you can do with children this Fall, read our blogs Fun Indoor Activities to Do with Kids and Healthy Fall Snacks for Kids. Also, enjoy reading our free course, Playing Outdoors.
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