Cooking And Investigating With Pumpkins

Get creative during this wonderful time of year.

Harry reluctantly gutting a pumpkin.
Harry gutting a large pumpkin.

Growing A Pumpkin

We teach children that to grow fruit and vegetables we need to plant a seed and ensure it receives sunlight and water. It sounds so easy and yet…

In the past we have successfully grown a pumpkin on a vine so I know we can do it! This year we only had one pumpkin seed to plant so we really made the effort to nurture and take care of our pumpkin plant. We planted the seed in March and kept it on a sunny windowsill. We watered the seed and were so excited to see its first shoot begin to grow.

Once our little plant had two true leaves, we placed it into a larger pot and at the end of May, when the weather was warmer, we took the plant outside where it continued to grow a vine and its beautiful yellow flowers opened up.

Bright yellow flowers of our pumpkin plant.
Bright yellow flowers of our pumpkin plant.

A Valuable Discussion

But then… our plant began to wilt! As we sadly observed our plant turn brown and its leaves shrivel up, we were able to discuss numerous ideas and theories as to why our plant ultimately died. These conversations were possibly more valuable than if the plant had actually produced a pumpkin. The ability to reflect, hypothesise and try again are all important skills to develop.

So, we are eager to plant more pumpkin seeds again next spring and look forward to seeing if our efforts will be rewarded.

Make a turntable to show the stages of a pumpkin lifecycle.
Make a turntable to show the stages of a pumpkin lifecycle.

Pumpkin Lifecycle Activity

There are many wonderful stages to the lifecycle of a pumpkin – my favourite is when the beautiful yellow flowers begin to bloom. There are so vibrant against the green vine.

One way to show the lifecycle of a pumpkin is to make a turntable. This is a simple module which shows the different stages using a circular diagram. These stages include:

  • Seed – the lifecycle begins with planting a seed.
  • Shoots - in the right conditions the seed will germinate and a shoot will grow upwards out of the soil.
  • Leaves - furry leaves will grow, reaching outwards for sunlight.
  • Vines - a long vine will grow.
  • Yellow flowers - these will open up ready for pollinators.
  • Green pumpkin - the first pumpkins will be small and green.
  • Orange pumpkin - when the pumpkin turns orange, it is ready to be picked and eaten.
  • Seeds - inside the pumpkin are more pumpkin seeds – ready to be dried out and then planted the following year for the lifecycle to continue.
Top Tip: when picking your pumpkin choose one with a big stalk, this can be useful to use as a handle when painting.
Gather together a leaf collection to learn about trees.
My homemade pumpkin soup and buttered rolls.

Pumpkin Recipes

October is the month for cooking with pumpkins! We enjoy seasonal cooking and I really notice the difference in taste when we use fresh vegetables in season. Our favourite pumpkin dish has to be pumpkin soup – there is nothing like this hot soup on a cold autumn day and I love the sweetness of the pumpkin.

The best thing about making soup is you can just add lots of different vegetables which need using up. I never weigh or measure the ingredients of our soups so every time it tastes slightly different. For my pumpkin soup I most often fry an onion or two, then add chunks of pumpkin and a couple of carrots. I cover the vegetables with water and add herbs and a vegetable stock cube. Once all the vegetables are soft, it’s ready to be whizzed up.

Some other pumpkins recipes to try are:

  • Roasted pumpkin – drizzle some oil over chunks of pumpkin and roast in the oven.
  • Pumpkin stew – stir-fry onion, peppers, carrots and chunks of pumpkin before adding a tin of tomatoes, chickpeas and black beans. Add, spices, herbs and a vegetable stock cube and leave to simmer.
  • Pumpkin humous – add some roasted pumpkin when you make humous this October. Blend chickpeas, a dash of lemon juice and a tablespoon of tahini with some roasted pumpkin to make a creamy orange humous.
  • Pumpkin and spinach lasagne – add layers of a roasted pumpkin and bean mixture to your lasagne.
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds – when you remove the seeds from the pumpkin spread them out on a baking tray. Leave them to dry overnight. Drizzle some oil and a pinch of salt over them and cook in the oven for about 10 mins or until brown.
  • Pumpkin cake – similar to carrot cake – add grated pumpkin to make a moist and naturally sweet cake.
Harry’s pumpkin painting.
Harry’s pumpkin painting.

Pumpkin Artwork Activity

There are many different stages in the growth of a pumpkin. This growing process, along with the pumpkin itself, can provide great plenty of great inspiration for artwork. Children can experiment with different art materials like chalk, paint, crayons and pens to observe and draw the different stages of the growth of the pumpkin.

One great art activity for younger children is to use the pumpkin top for printing. When you cut the top off a pumpkin it does not need to be wasted, it’s the ideal tool for your child’s artwork.

Top Tip: when picking your pumpkin choose one with a big stalk, this can be useful to use as a handle when painting.

Your child can cover the underside with paint and then push it firmly down onto a large piece of white paper. This provides a great sensory tool for children as they can experiment with different colours and textures.

The boys playing with the overflow of our pumpkin volcano investigation.
The boys playing with the overflow of our pumpkin volcano investigation.

Pumpkin Science Experiments

A hollowed pumpkin can provide the perfect vessel for a pumpkin volcano! In this fantastic activity children measure out the ingredients to create a chemical reaction – causing the mixture to foam and overflow.

Top Tip: Be sure to place your hollowed pumpkin in a large plastic container or plastic messy table like pictured above. This is to catch the overflowing liquid which can create quite a mess.

Once you have chosen a suitable spot then your child can add the following ingredients. Keep in mind that the quantities listed below are for a very small eruption. For a large pumpkin you will need to double or triple the quantities. There is a bit of trial and error involved but that adds to the fun!

  • Add 100ml water.
  • Add 10 drops of food colouring - this is for effect and not a necessity.
  • Add 2tsp of baking soda.
  • Add 40ml washing up liquid.
  • Add 60ml vinegar.

I really hope you all enjoy my pumpkin suggestions. I have decided to give our Hands-On Education KS1 Pumpkins topic away for free this month. All you have to do is sign in or sign up to gain full access to all eight activities!

We want to share our fun pumpkin and nature activities with you this October.

Year One

pumpkin picture.

Year One
Plants Around Us

Plants Around Us picture.

Year Two
How Plants Grow

How Plants Grow picture.

Year Three
Seeds and Lifecycles

Seeds and Lifecycles picture.