08/07/2013October - Pumpkin Feels Lonely
Poor old pumpkin.
This page gives you more information about the Pumpkin Feels Lonely book - what your children will get out of reading it and information on all our extension activities and links to food and story related fun.
This page will tell you:
- a storyline summary of the Pumpkin Feels Lonely story
- foods featured in the story
- ideas for extending the themes in the story (children have different skills and abilities)
- food activities you can do with children in October
- recipe ideas for pumpkins
- other links and ideas for working with this story
The veggie patch gardener has only grown one of him and he has no one to play with.
The other veg are all happy to play with him but he's not able to do the things they can do and he feels really lonely.
Until someone spots him sadly rolling away and everyone decides that rolling looks the most fun of all.
Pumpkin learns to focus on what you CAN do and not what you CAN'T do.
October Featured Foods
Carrots, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflowers, Beetroot, Onions
Our October story features a lonely pumpkin who just wants to fit in and have some friends to play with.
The reason Pumpkin is lonely is because there is only one pumpkin in the garden. Pumpkin plants are large rambling plants, so an average veggie patch is likely to only have one or two. Plus, to get a large pumpkin like the one in the story - the kind that children think of when they imagine a pumpkin and big enough to carve at Halloween - requires a lot of energy and growth. To have a good chance of a really big pumpkin, a gardener needs to snip off most of the fruit on a pumpkin plant and just leave one or two pumpkins to swell up large. So the story has a pumpkin who is the only one in his modest veggie patch.
Of course children associate pumpkins with Halloween, but lots of children don't eat them after they have carved them. Use some recipes to tempt them into eating some of the flesh. If they find the taste a little strong, mix it in recipes with other sweet roots like carrots or sweet potatoes as this can be a good introduction to pumpkin. For children with more adventurous palates, pumpkin is a perfect foil for lots of vegetarian curries.
You can also get children to save the seeds. Scraping out the centre of a pumpkin is a bit messy and icky, but can be a lot of fun. When you've got all the gooey seedy mess separated off from the edible flesh, children can pick out the seeds and wash them in a sieve. They can either then be saved for new plants next year, roasted and sprinkled to eat, or fed to hungry winter birds.
Cauliflowers in this story play peekaboo. Cauliflowers grow their edible flower heads in the middle of many layers of leaves. Sometimes you can see them throughout their growing cycle but often you don't know the head is there until you peel back the leaves and look what's underneath. If you are growing cauliflowers and you want to keep the appearance of the heads white and creamy, you snap the stems of the leaves closest to the middle and bend them over to make a protective cover from the elements. So in our story the cauliflowers play boo under their leaves. Don't forget the stems and leaves of cauliflower are perfectly edible and taste absolutely fine. Strip the dark leafy parts of and steam them like spring greens or cabbage and chop the stems in to small chunks and cook alongside your florets.
Brussels sprouts are basically teeny cabbages. They grow on tall stiff stems in little rows of buttons and you pick off the ones you want to eat and leave the rest behind. If you are not growing sprouts, try buying some still on the stem as children find them fascinating. You can eat the leafy tops too - just like spring greens.
Skills and Abilities
When Pumpkin is trying to find a friend, he is frustrated because the veggies he meets are playing games which he can't. He wants to join in and no one is being mean to him, but he just doesn't have the specific ability needed for their games. He becomes disheartened and lonely and thinks that no one will want to play with him. But when he rolls away, one of the other veggies spots him rolling and thinks that looks like fun. Soon all the veggies are rolling. Pumpkin realises that he has an ability which other people like and wants to play with.
Children are all different and develop at different rates. Some children are naturally good at things which other children will always struggle with. Other children have specific physical disabilities which makes certain skills very tricky or impossible to master. But although Pumpkin can't bend his leaves or pogo jump, and probably never will, he can do other things which people find fun, just as children can find the skill they are good at, rather than focussing on all the things they can't do. Children who are trying to be inclusive of each other can always find something which everyone in the group can do together, and good friends often learn to take turns doing activities which one person is good at and the other not so much, and vice versa. The point is that every veggie and every child has something special to offer and focussing on your skills and abilities can give you lots of confidence
We have developed three activities which get children to explore their own personal strengths, plus some weblinks which can reinforce this idea. You can find them here.
Food Activities For October
Tasting Sessions - You can get the children involved in tasting seasonal foods as with all the other months. We provide instructions for a blindfold guessing tasting game here on the site which is free to download and there are printable guessing strips for each month featuring five seasonal foods to taste which are easy to provide in bite size pieces and are fairly child-friendly (essentially won't put them off tasting things). The tastes for October are: apple, pumpkin, tomato, courgette, carrot. There are suggestions in the instructions for how best to prepare foods to make them palatable. You can find the instructions and the printable strips here.
Discovering Food - Modelling Sessions - children learn a lot by touching and discovering. We have instructions here for a discovery session, using the five seasonal foods or any other of your choice, where children get to handle and observe them and then try to replicate what they have discovered with playdough or clay. You can find the instructions for the activity here.
How Pumpkins Grow - Sequencing Game - Most children don't know how pumpkins grow - many of them will have a vague idea about them being on a plant with big leaves. They may not think about the fact that a pumpkin is a fruit, because it is so big, and therefore the connection between the flowers and the pumpkin might be new to them. We have a sequencing exercise here for you to print off and do - there are tiles to cut up and move around on the table to find the right sequence, a blank sequence chart for children to glue their finished sequence onto, or there is also a completed version to print off and colour in. We provide two versions - a four part sequence for younger children and a six part sequence for older children. You can find all the instructions and templates here.
Recipe Ideas For Pumpkins
This spooky soup has a carved pumpkin face on the top - the recipe included is a butternut squash soup but a simple pumpkin recipe which could be used with this soup idea would be this one (you wouldn't have to make the croutons because of the spooky topping).
Other ideas for working with this story
This little game from Starfall uses a short song to teach the letter 'u' and then allows you to choose a pumpkin, eyes, nose and mouth for your own fun carved pumpkin
This online game gets you to decide where to place coloured pumpkins. Like Jewel Quest, you have to make groups of three to eliminate them, and like Tetrus, you have to avoid hitting the edges. Bit of fun which requires matching skills and a bit of strategy, so probably for slightly older children who can understand what they are supposed to be doing.
Poor old pumpkin.
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