For about eight years in the 1990′s, Project Pumpkin Patch was a year round curriculum developed by Margaret Taylor and Sara DeMont who were team teaching two multi-aged classrooms. Each class was composed of about 20 kindergarten/first grade children. Each year the required curriculum was taught through the Pumpkin Patch Project. It involved math, science, journal writing, music, art, language arts, problem solving, etc.
The teachers received permission to have about 1/3 of an acre of land on school property plowed in the fall of 1992. A father of one of the children drove his tractor from Etna and plowed the patch. Thus began Project Pumpkin Patch. The children were in the patch most every month of the school year. First came the measuring, a visit to see what happened to the soil when the ground froze, a sledding party, and then making snow pumpkins and painting them orange. In spring we visited again to watch the tractor harrow the ground. The rows were marked and of course then came planting time with the help of many parents. Further visits were made before school let out for the summer. There were a couple of weeding evenings in the summer, and then weekly visits in the fall. A pumpkin sale occurred for all the school kids and community in early October and then the tractor turned the soil over and the cycle began again.
During the year in the classroom we spent time planning the patch, ordering seeds and counting the five different kinds of seeds we ordered. A monthly journal was kept by each child. Seeds were started in the classroom and each child also had a science journal. The observed the little plants and recorded their observations, the changes they saw as the plants grew. Children took little plants home and the patch at school was started from the thousands of seeds we had purchased. As the sale approached in the fall the classes made posters, baked pumpkin bread with parents, and harvested the pumpkins along with many parents who offered many lending hands.
It should be noted that in the fall we had the new kindergarten kids. Our first graders had moved on to second grade. The second graders returned for the harvest and sale. The first year we harvest and sold over 1, 100 pumpkins. The pumpkins were sold at bargain prices and with the profit T-shirts were ordered for the kindergarten, first, and second graders who were in those classes. The rest of the money went for expenses for the next year’s patch which included seeds, etc. In addition the entire project was filmed on video and copied for families and the Ray School library.
Project Pumpkin Patch went on for many years, with some years yielding more pumpkins than others. The excitement reached throughout the school and especially for the “graduates” of those two classes.
Project Pumpkin Patch received national recognition when “The Eisenhower Science Award” was bestowed upon us. The project was an ideal learning experience for children of mixed ages and it was exciting to have a curriculum that meshed all subject areas together throughout the year.
Retired K-1 Teachers