31 Days: My Favorite Book for Pumpkin Science
In my experience, pumpkins are naturally interesting to young children: they’re full of slimy stuff, they have seeds you can eat, and they decompose in the most disgustingly awesome way. Today, I’m sharing my all-time, best-of-the-best, very favorite book for pumpkin science.
Pumpkin Circle, by George Levenson, details the life cycle of a pumpkin with rhyming text and photographs by Shmuel Thaler. Beginning with a variety of seeds from different pumpkin varieties, Pumpkin Circle shows how pumpkin vines grow and how the pumpkins themselves develop from flowers. The photographs are vivid and taken from a variety of unique perspectives. One of my favorite spreads zooms in on the very center of a pumpkin blossom so readers can see the tiny hairs covering the petals of the flower. Another shot is taken through the leaf on a pumpkin vine, clearly highlighting the veins inside the leaf.
The final pages of the book describe the pumpkin’s post-Halloween return to the soil. There is no easier science lesson than to toss a pumpkin out in the yard and watch it return to the Earth. Kids LOVE decomposition, and no special equipment is required. If you have the time or inclination, have them record their observations a few times a month, and see just how long it takes for that cheery orange pumpkin to become a pile of black mush. (And notice how much longer yet it takes for that mush to really become usable soil/compost!)
Sometimes we forget just how easy nature study and environmental science can be to teach. You don’t really need a lot of fancy equipment or elaborate lesson plans. All it takes is the willingness to pay attention, observe, and study what’s already happening around us.
If you decide to watch your pumpkin decompose, please let me know! I think a comparison of rotting pumpkins in different parts of the country would be fantastic.