Harvest Learning: Pumpkins, Gourds, and Squash
One of my favorite fall activities is venturing with my daughter to the local farmer’s market to select natural autumn decorations for our porch. Each year, there is an abundance of beautiful produce perfect for our preparations. This year, I wondered if I could spin this plethora of products into a learning opportunity. The farm always seems to have such a wide variety of pumpkins, gourds, and squash, I decided to investigate what exactly makes them different. All of my searches kept coming back to “you carve pumpkins, you look at gourds, and you eat squash”. This did not seem terribly scientific, and as a lover of anything and everything pumpkin, I know I eat them too! Pumpkins, gourds, and squash all fall into the same scientific family (Cucurbitaceae). All of the glorious different plants you see at the farm come from the hundreds of different genus and species in this group. Finally, I was able to come up with an easier differentiation we could use to classify our haul of fall goodies, the stems! Pumpkin stems seem wooden, gourds have ridged stems, and squash stems are spongy. With so many colors, textures, shapes and sizes, pumpkins, gourds, and squash lend themselves easily to wonderful classification exercises, comparison and contrast activities, and descriptive words. Try some of these activities with your children after your next trip to the market!
- Classify your fall objects as pumpkins, gourds, or squash
- Make a Venn Diagram comparing pumpkins, gourds, and squash (see printable)
- Make a chart to compare them. You could even take pictures of the items you purchase and glue them in the right spot! (see printable)
- Sort the pumpkins, gourds, and squash by color, shape, or size
- Brainstorm a list of words to describe them and try your hand at creative writing, maybe even a fall poem!
- And, of course, decorating!