When students decided they’d like to make their big pumpkin into pumpkin cookies, we asked a parent who grows pumpkins to share a “tried and true” recipe. We read the recipe together as part of our text type study. One of the ingredients in the recipe confused students – it called for “pumpkin puree” and most of us didn’t know what that was. After we figured out what the recipe was asking for, we decided that we would need to find out how to turn our pumpkin into puree. We added “find out how to make pumpkin puree” to our Farmer Appreciation Day to do list and here’s what we’ve done:
- First, we researched how to make pumpkin puree online and read information/steps from a couple of different websites. This was a teacher-led activity, where I searched our topic online and we all viewed the information on our interactive whiteboard. I read the directions aloud to students and we discussed the general steps we’d need to do.
- Next, we made teams to be in charge of different steps in the process. I wanted everyone to be included and have a part in making the pumpkin puree. However, I didn’t think I could manage 15 kids trying to help all at once. I quickly came up with catchy names for each step – Cut & Clean, Cook & Scoop and Mix&Mash. Then, students signed up for the step they’d like to help with.
- Finally, we got to work on actually making our very own pumpkin puree! It was a busy day, but we did it!
Making Pumpkin Puree
Team Cut & Clean
Team Cook & Scoop
This team was in charge of loading pieces of pumpkin into baking trays, carrying them to the oven and helping me check the pumpkin as it cooked. After the pumpkin was cooked, they scooped the soft cooked pumpkin into bowls.
Team Mix and Mash
How did I manage all of this activity going on in my classroom without total chaos?
Thanks to a volunteer, students on team “Cut & Clean” were able to start their step while I did my morning small group instruction and other students worked on their Daily 5 ELA activities. Then I helped team “Cook & Scoop” put the pumpkin in the oven to cook just before our recess break. We checked it a few times during our day, until we noticed it was soft and ready to scoop. We let the pumpkin cool and by then, it was the last “block” of the day when we usually take time to work on different tasks for our project. I set up a station for the students assigned to “Cook and Scoop” so they could start scooping out the soft pumpkin. Other students chose a task they needed to work on for the project (a task that they could do independently such as poster-making or designing the guest book). Once all of the pumpkin was scooped out, I had students from “Mix and Mash” come one at a time to puree the pumpkin with me! I think the key was having familiar, independent activities for the students while I worked with others. It worked really well – we got our pumpkin puree made, everyone got to help with the process and there was minimal interruption to our daily routine!
Follow up: Reading Activity
As a follow-up activity, we talked about sequence in procedural texts and students read and sequenced the steps for making pumpkin puree.