Pumpkin Patrol - Getting Started! October 06 2009

It's officially October, and time for the Pumpkin Patrol!

[caption id="attachment_2547" align="alignright" width="150" caption="Photo by Adelmann"]Photo by Adelmann[/caption]What's the Pumpkin Patrol? Your one-stop resource for ideas and activities to celebrate everything Pumpkin, and a lot of Halloween! I have a variety of posts planned, covering suggestions and recommendations for subjects across the curriculum, including reading, poetry, math, science, social studies and technology.

The celebration of pumpkins is all month long, so settle in! Below are some easy ways to prepare!


Visit your school or local library and borrow books to place around your classroom and read to students. Some titles include:

It's Pumpkin Time by Zoe Hall
The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Steven Kroll
Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White
Pumpkin Circle by George Levenson
Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper
Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman
From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer
Runaway Pumpkin by Kevin Lewis

Also, include a variety of books about Halloween:

Scary, Scary Halloween by Eve Bunting
Moonlight, The Halloween Cat by Cynthia Rylant
10 Trick-or-Treaters: A Halloween Counting Book by Janet Schulman


If you have a word wall, set up some room for Pumpkin Vocabulary!

Your use of these words depends upon the age and reading level of your kids as well as what elements of the Pumpkin Patrol studied. Some of these vocabulary words directly relate to the science lessons, while some relate to the social studies portion. Use this list as a guide, adding and taking away words as desired.

Some of the words I included on my list are carve, soil, seeds, cover, water, sunlight, roots, shoots, ground, sprout, vines, leaves, buds, flowers, green, yellow, orange, pick, seeds, pulp, estimate, squash, scary, North America, jack-o-lantern, Colonists, Native Americans, immigrants, turnip and, of course, PUMPKIN.

I suggest introducing vocabulary words a few at a time to coincide with the elements your class studies. Consider the following strategies:

  • Spelling List - if you use a spelling curriculum, look to see where you can fit in some pumpkin vocabulary. Are there any similar patterns?
  • My ABC Chart - print one of these out for each student to keep in a special pumpkin folder (see below). Have a volunteer or assistant make a large one on butcher paper (print one out, make a transperancy and use an overhead). At the end of a Pumpkin lesson, debrief by recording new and difficult words on the ABC charts.
  • Predict, Define, and Sketch - use this chart as you introduce vocabulary. In small groups or individually, students write their best guesses as to what the introduced vocabulary words mean. Then they use dictionaries to define the words, and finally sketch a picture of what the words mean.


It's important to figure out what kids already know, as well as provide structure for the learning process. One of the ways to do this is to make a K-W-L Chart using poster paper - the first column is "Know," the middle column is "Want to know?" and the third column is "Learned."

Begin by asking your students to share with the class what they already know about pumpkins and record their answers on the chart. In the middle column, write down the questions they have - what they're curious about - regarding pumpkins. Leave the third column blank, and fill in facts your kids have learned or any answers to their questions as your class progresses through lessons about pumpkins.


This unit will last for a short time, so it would be fun to have a special place for your students for students to keep their pumpkin paraphernalia. Orange construction paper should do the trick! Use 11x17 and fold in half horizontally in order to make a folder. Each student can decorate his/her own folder for the unit, then take home all of their pumpkin papers in it when the unit is done!

With Pumpkin Patrol, October is going to be a lot of fun in your classroom!