Pumpkin Tales--Thematic Unit for K-1
Daily Classroom Special
Pumpkin Tales was written by Marilyn Chadwick. Marilyn is involved
in a collaboration between the New York City Board of Education and
the United Federation of Teachers.
Irish legend has it that
there was once a man named Jack, who tricked the Devil into saying
that he would never claim Jack's soul. When Jack died, he was refused
entrance at the Gates of Heaven because he was a miser and a drunkard.
Jack went back down to Hell because there was no where else to go.
When he arrived, the Devil, remembering his promise, refused to accept
him. Jack said, "Where shall I go?" The Devil answered,
"Back where you came from," and he threw Jack a burning
coal from the fires of Hell to light his way. Jack just happened to
be eating a turnip at the time, so he put his burning coal inside
the turnip to keep his hand from scorching. From that time on, Jack's
soul wandered the Earth looking for a place to rest. On All Hallows
Eve, when the souls of the dead returned to Earth, he became known
by all those who saw him as "Jack O' Lantern."
While it was the Irish
immigrants who brought this tale with them, the pumpkin is indigenous
to the Americas. There is evidence that members of the squash family
were cultivated by the Native Americans before corn. In Massachusetts,
the English settlers adopted the Narragansett word 'accutasquash'
for this vegetable. The French explorer, Cartier, wrote home about
a gros melon which became known as a pompion, or pumpkin.
Pumpkins are just one of
the family of winter squash which are commonly found today, but the
pumpkin is associated with Halloween and Thanksgiving in a way that
other members of the family are not.
for the Classroom
Carve a Jack O' Lantern
Take a sharp knife, or a pumpkin cutter (a serrated edge knife made
especially for carving pumpkins) and cut a circle around the stem.
Lift this piece off and scoop out the seed and pulp. Save. Draw a
face on the pumpkin. Cut out the eyes, nose and mouth. Put a candle
inside or a small flashlight and light it for the party. (Please remember
to use common sense when dealing with the knife.)
Clean the pulp from the
seeds by washing them in a colander under a strong stream of running
water. Dry the seeds thoroughly. Save a few for planting. Place the
seeds in a single layer, brush lightly with vegetable oil, sprinkle
salt and bake in the oven until crispy. Serve them at the party.
Peel the rind from the
pumpkin. Cut the meat into one inch cubes and steam until soft. Drain,
mash and freeze. Use the pumpkin puree to make a pie or muffins for
Fill a six inch flower
pot with a mixture of potting soil and sterile soil mix. Dampen thoroughly.
Plant the pumpkin seeds one half inch deep. The seeds will germinate
in a week to ten days. Pumpkin vines grow quickly and need sun. Keep
the soil moist and fertilize with half strength liquid fertilizer
every two weeks. After six to eight weeks, the plants will begin to
flower. Pumpkins will not develop indoors, but the children will have
observed the life cycle of the plant from fruit to flower.
In addition, the
plant itself can be used to demonstrate phototropism and thigmotropism.
Phototropism: A plant's ability to turn itself toward the sun in order to absorb
Thigmotropism: A vining plant's ability to find a support and cling.