Outdoor Hour Challenge: Crop Plants-Pumpkins

Outdoor Hour Challenge
Crop Plants #6
Pumpkins-Seeds, vines, fruit

Inside Preparation Work
1. Read in the Handbook of Nature Study pages 611-617. Make sure to highlight or underline some facts about pumpkins and also a few ideas for completing your nature study during your pumpkin time.

2. You can either plan a field trip to a pumpkin field to observe pumpkin plants and pumpkins or you can purchase a pumpkin at the grocery and bring it home and complete this study with a real pumpkin. You could also plan on doing both!

Outdoor Time (At home or during your field trip)
3. For this challenge, spend 10-15 minutes outdoors. Even if you don’t have a pumpkin plant to observe, spend this time in your own yard enjoying what you do have up close. You can compare leaves on different plants, look for vines of any kind, look for something orange like a pumpkin, sit and watch for insects, or dig a small hole and see what you can find that is interesting. The possibilities are endless.

Follow-Up Activity
4. Take a few minutes to talk about anything your child found outside that was interesting. Did they bring in something to look at with the magnifying lens? Do they have something they would like to sketch into their nature journal?

5. An idea for a nature journal this week is to sketch a pumpkin or the diagrams of the pumpkin blossoms from the Handbook of Nature Study. If you need an image of a pumpkin, do a quick Google Image search. (Preview before you share with your children.)

6. If you have a real pumpkin to observe, use the suggestions on pages 616 and 617 in the Handbook of Nature Study. (If you purchased the Crop Plants notebook pages, you will have a page to record your observations.)

Here are some journal ideas to get you started:

  • Sketch or describe the leaf.
  • Thump your pumpkin and describe the sound.
  • Observe the creases on the outside of the pumpkin.
  • Can you tell which way your pumpkin sat on the ground when it was growing?
  • Cut your pumpkin open and view the seeds. Sketch the arrangement in your journal.
  • Are pumpkins mostly full or empty?
  • Observe the thickness of the pumpkin shell. Is it the same all over the pumpkin?
  • Carefully sketch a pumpkin seed into your journal.
  • Describe the feel of the pumpkin both inside and out. What is the stringy stuff for?
  • Describe the smell of the pumpkin inside.
  • Describe the taste of cooked pumpkin or the pumpkin seed after roasting.
  • Also try these links:
  • Pumpkin life cycle: http://www.atozteacherstuff.com/pdf.htm?pumpkin_lesson.pdf
  • Pumpkin poem for your nature journal: http://www.dltk-holidays.com/fall/pumpkinpoem1.htm

Crop Plants Notebook Page Cover Button
New for this series of challenges are custom made notebook pages for each crop plant we will study. I have designed simple to use pages that will complement each challenge and will be an easy way to start a nature journal. Each of the eight notebook pages is in full color, but they are just as great in black and white.



  1. It occurs to me that while I’d rather have a bountiful garden (preferably weeded by little elves), that I can do the observations you suggest for pumpkin on pretty much any produce I bring home from the grocery store.
    It wouldn’t convince my little guy that there aren’t strawberry tres, but it might help them see what is in front of them.

  2. Bingo! I think that is the single most important lesson to be learned by the whole OH Challenge experiment.

    The challenge is just a vehicle to get you going and you can use it in a way that fits your family and your environment.

    Any kind of squash, pumpkin, gourd, etc can substitute for this lesson. Look at the seeds, try to sprout some, examine carefully any subject you decide to use.

    Run with the ideas! I am setting you free….just kidding. You know what I mean.

    Thanks for the comment,

  3. Hey Barb, great post!!! Thanks for the inspiration! Question: My boys are almost 7 and almost 4 years. Eldest is 1st grade. I have both Bienfang note sketches and just regular spiral notebooks. Which should I use? I’m having a hard time letting them use the Bienfang (sp?) jouranls since they are pricey. But I want to do what is best.

    I will most likely join your OHC. Excited!!!! :o)

  4. Shannon,

    I say use the better journals. You will be glad five years from now when they are still intact and you can look fondly back on the memories you are making with your young children.

    Here is a link to our Flickr group that shows young children’s journal entries…priceless.


    Barb-Harmony Art Mom

  5. Thanks Barb!! I will use the nicer journals. Good reflection–I never thought about looking back on then (I know, what kind of mother am I). I’m so new to all of this that my mind is overwhelmed at times!!! LOL Thanks again for your advice, and thanks for your most wonderful blog that isn’t full of junk and such. :o)

  6. Excited to do our pumpkin challenge tomorrow! The local orchard (only one, I believe) opens up tomorrow at 7AM! Though the pumpkins won’t be ready, I’m excited to show the boys how pumpkins develop from a flower into a pumpkin. Plus, they have watermelons and zucchini to pick. :o) And lots of apple trees to see! My Handobook of Nature and journals will be traveling with us as well. Can you tell I’m excited? I will comment about it tomorrow and link you back to my new homeschool blog once I get free time tomorrow.


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