What do you do with a
Because pumpkins are harvested in the fall,
they're a traditional part of fall celebrations. Here are some ideas for
using pumpkins in the child care setting. Most people think of pies when
they hear the word "pumpkin," but pumpkin can also be used as a
vegetable. Prepare pumpkin in one of the following ways.
PUTTING PUMPKIN ON THE
(Best used with a
Bake. Remove fiber and seeds from the
pumpkin. Cut the pumpkin into large pieces and place it on a cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees until it is fork tender. Remove the skin and mash
pumpkin with butter, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve as a vegetable.
Steam. Remove fiber and seeds from the
pumpkin. Cut medium-sized pieces of pumpkin and remove the skins. Place
them on a steaming rack in a heavy pan. Add 1/2 cup to 1 cup water and
cover the pan tightly. Reduce heat when steam begins to escape. Steam
until fork tender. Mash and use as a vegetable or in your favorite pumpkin
Microwave. Pierce the skin of a whole
pumpkin with a fork several times to make holes for the steam to vent.
Cover with a paper towel to contain spattering. Microwave on high heat
until pumpkin is fork tender. Cut the pumpkin open and remove seeds and
skin. Mash and use as a vegetable or in a recipe you like. Try the
following recipe for pumpkin muffins or roast the seeds for a tasty treat.
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cooked, mashed pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Sift dry ingredients together. Beat egg slightly. Combine egg, milk,
pumpkin, and oil. Add wet ingredients to dry mixture all at once and stir
until they are combined. Batter should be lumpy. Fold in raisins. Fill
greased muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake 20 to 25 minutes at 400 degrees.
Makes 12 muffins.
ROASTED PUMPKIN SEEDS
Scrape the inside of the pumpkin, saving
the seeds. Wash the
seeds to remove the membrane. Drain and spread in a baking pan. Toast in a
300 degree oven, stirring occasionally to brown the seeds evenly. Serve to
the children for a snack. Caution: Roasted pumpkin seeds may cause choking
in children under 3 years of age.
PUMPKIN-SEED ART PROJECTS
Dry clean pumpkin seeds on a plate in a
sunny window and use them later for art projects. Combine the dried seeds
with other natural materials, such as acorns, pine cones, corn kernels,
and dried beans to make mosaic pictures.
THE PUMPKIN AS
Jack-o'-lanterns are the traditional symbol
of Halloween. Before doing this activity, however, stop to consider the
way some parents view Halloween. Some families do not celebrate Halloween
because it conflicts with their religion or values. Select another
activity if you feel parents would object to this one. If you aren't sure,
Let the children help design the face of the jack-o'-lantern and take out
the pumpkin seeds and string. Adults should do all the carving. When the
jack-o'-lantern is finished, let the children touch and explore it. Place
a small flashlight inside to light up the features.
Children can make their own jack-o'-lanterns by decorating pumpkins with
permanent markers. Jack-o'-lanterns made in this way can be cooked and
eaten after Halloween if segments with permanent marker on them are
Reprinted with permission from the National
Network for Child Care - NNCC. Horning, L. and J. E. Van Horn (1995). What
do you do with a pumpkin? In Todd, C.M. (Ed.). *Child care center
connections* 5(1). Urbana, IL: National Network for Child Care at the
University of Illinois Cooperative Extension Service.