Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Trip to the Pumpkin Patch Harvests Learning Opportunities

We went to a nearby pumpkin patch and had a blast!  Going to the farm is a great place to take the kids for an outing in the fall.  It is also is a good field-trip idea.  We made friends with goats, cows, rabbits, and pigs.  There was also a sweet horse and one very quiet donkey.  There were endless motor and sensory activities for the children to investigate.  A tractor ride lead us right up to the pumpkin patch where we picked out our own gourds and pumpkins.  After the pumpkin patch, we went into the corn maze.  I think we were exposed to about a zillion teachable opportunities throughout the course of the day!  Come and take a virtual tour of the trip with me!  I'll point out some possible learning opportunities a trip such as this one can offer your students.

Let's look at the sensory and motor activities that a trip such as this can offer young children.
Here is one of the water pumps with a little rubber duckie done up as a pirate. The children pump the water out from the pump. This causes the ducks to "swim" down stream. There are a number of pumps so the children enjoy racing their ducks against each other.
Can you see the benefit of using this activity to activate prior knowledge when beginning a unit of forces? (The water's force is a "push" which causes the duck to move away from the pump. The greater the force the faster the duck moves.)
The "bowling alley" - yet another opportunity to discuss forces.

Beanbag toss for eye-hand coordination
Another view of the beanbag toss.
Cat's Cradle Maze
higher order thinking

garden hose maze

The "Cow Train" moves because it is "pulled".
A dramatic play experience with "real" hay and a "fake/artificial" cow.

Have you every tried to milk a wooden cow? Could this lead to a discussion on past and present dairy farming methods?
There were some spoons and some other objects to hit the pans with. The children listened to the sounds made from striking the different kinds of pans. Can you see an opportunity to develop the concept of "Same & Different"?

This is part of the "Sound Garden". The children used the flip flops to hit the pipes and hear the sounds.
This is the "Volley Wall". The wall takes the place of the volleyball net. It's made from hay bales. The children hit the large ball back and forth over the wall. An opportunity to use the preposition "Over"?
This is a tunnel for the kids to crawl through. It reminds me of a hamster tunnel.
This is another part of the "Hamster Tunnel". Can we use the preposition "through"?
This area was walled in with tires. There are tricycles for the little ones to ride on.

Great for upper leg muscle development! Here I go with the prepositions again. Can we work on the word "inside" the tire wall to describe our location?

a sandbox with toy vehicles
This is a sensory box. It's filled with shelled field corn and a few of the remnant-cobs. This children sift their hands through it.
Here is a closer few of the field kernels in the box.
Field corn is processed to make things like corn meal and corn flour. It is not sweet corn. Follow this link to learn more about the difference between field corn and sweet corn: CORN! 
We saw big, little, and medium sized animals. All the animals we saw were mammals! 
a sweet horse
This picture might look as if the donkey is caged up but there is actually tons of space behind him to roam about. He was coming up close to the fence in hopes of getting a treat from us.
This goat really wanted to get my camera but my reflexes were working well!
Time to head over to the pumpkin patch!
pumpkin patch in October
pumpkin flower
Only a few of the white pumpkins remained in the patch.
These pumpkins were in front of the store at the farm. Pumpkins are 90% water. A 10 pound pumpkin is 9 pounds of water.  Good to know for science and math activities!
A farmer told me that pumpkins originated in the Americas.  They were not known to Europeans until some of the early explorers brought them to Europe (or maybe the seeds)  hundreds of years ago.  This intrigued me because I thought the story of Cinderella was a really old story . . . but apparently not as old as the pumpkins' trek to Europe. 
This is called a "Cinderella" or "Fairy Tale" pumpkin. I'm not sure if the terms are synonymous.
Can you guess what the name of this pumpkin is? It's a "Peanut" pumpkin!
Gourds are great for teaching adjectives that describe color, texture, and shape. In small group, give each child one to draw. Then shuffle the drawings and have them try to match the real gourd to the illustrations they made.
Let's go through the corn maze!  Ready to get lost?  Each group needs to take a flag with them.  There are a few signals taught.  One signal is for requesting to speak with a staff member to get redirected.  The other signal is a distress indicator.  There is a watchman perched up high to make sure that everyone is doing well.
corn maze flags
And we're in
We saw lots of corn of course!
We're making it out!
I asked the farmer for six ears of field corn.
Here is a center activity for Kindergartners or preschoolers that works the muscles in those little fingers.  You will need at least six to eight ears of field corn to do this.  Make sure you are using field corn and not Indian corn or sweet corn.  You won't find field corn at the local grocery store but a generous farmer might give you some.  Take the corn and shuck it.  Then wait a day or so for the corn to dry out.  If the corn is moist, it might take more than one day.  
Shuck the corn.
Next, shell two rows of the kernels off from top to bottom. Set the corn in a container and put it in a sensory center. Instruct the children to shell the rest of the corn themselves. About three children can work on this at one time provided there are at least three ears of corn prepped for shelling. When the children shell the corn, they remove the kernels by pushing each kernel toward the cob. That is, the center line that you created for them when you shelled the first two rows. 
Shell two rows of corn from top to bottom. Save the kernels.
When all the corn is shelled, put the kernels in a tub and allow the children to sift their hands through the kernels. Let them use small plastic cups to scoop and pour the kernels with. Six to eight ears of corn should yield enough kernels for the "scoop and pour" activity. 
Instruct the children to push the kernels toward the center line that you created when the first two rows were shelled. Put the kernels in a tub for the children to scoop and pour with small plastic cups.
Field-trips are authentic learning opportunities that take place outside the classroom.  To maximize the learning experience, plan pre-trip activities as well as post-trip activities.  If possible, visit your trip location prior to your classroom visitation date and bring your camera.  Take photos and make them available on your whiteboard so your students know what to expect prior to the field-trip.  If the place you're visiting has a website, you might be able to provide the children with a sneak peek through that medium.

Lessons by Molly © 2013  All rights reserved.

Here is a children's book about corn that is written by one of my favorite children's author's:

No comments:

Post a Comment