New Jersey's Liberty Science Center educators brought its "Explore-A-Story: Pumpkin Circle" program to the pre-kindergarteners recently. The children received a lesson about the life cycle of plants.
In celebration of fall, the program specifically dealt with the season's iconic pumpkin.
The presentation was all done visually and "hands-on" as Associate Director of Science Educators and Offsite Education Susan Chasmer worked alongside her colleagues to show children the growth process of vegetation.
The young children got to sing songs about pumpkins, sit in for the storytelling part of Pumpkin Circle, and even explored the outside and insides of a pumpkin. The presentation accommodated the school's near 300 children ranging from the ages 3-5.
Together with Early Childhood Educator Nancy Conti and Associate Tashia Brewer, the trio began by questioning the children as to how much they knew about pumpkins.
Where do pumpkins come from?
When asked how or where pumpkins came from, the children gleefully yelled mixed answers.
The demonstration began with the instructors illustrating the ground's soil with a seed in it. Afterwards, the educators pasted magnetized pictures of stems and leaves to show the growth process of the small seed.
Equipped with a watering can and pillow resembling the sun, the educators continued their lecture.
Afterwards, the children were invited to sit down in groups and analyze the pumpkins. For each table there was at least one educator or teacher, and one pumpkin. Children would feel the outside of the pumpkin and educators would then cut it open. The children were then allowed to feel the inside of the pumpkin and the seeds. When asked how many seeds were inside the pumpkin the kids answered "a lot!"
The children also agreed with Chasmer when she asked kids if the seeds were slippery and slimy. Some brave children even tried the pumpkin seeds!
A learning experience
The visuals seemed to solidify the children's understanding of the growth process. When later asked where pumpkins came from, all three children interviewed responded with the same answer: seeds!
One of the young girls from the Early Childhood Center, Valentina, even spoke on how to make pumpkin pie out of a pumpkin.
"[Put it] in the kitchen," Valentina said.
Amazingly, all the children interviewed remembered exactly how to grow a pumpkin, proving the demonstration a success.
However, pumpkin pie was the favorite of these children.
"I like pumpkin pie," said one pre-k student, adding that pumpkins "are orange and soft inside".
Chasmer, who led the display, noted the enthusiasm by the kids.
"We received great feedback," said Chasmer. "The best thing is that they learn it [the information] and retain it." Chasmer also added by saying that the lessons are retained due to the children learning via a hands-on style of learning science.
"We try to teach them that science is easy," said Nancy Conti. "Science is everyday living,"
Although pumpkins weren't on the agenda for lunch that day, all the kids raised their hands when asked who was going to eat pumpkin that day!
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