By JOHANNA BOYLE
Journal Ishpeming Bureau
ISHPEMING - Alec Arvon, 4, put his hand through the cut-off top of his pumpkin and grabbed a handful of stringy orange pumpkin guts and seeds.
Kids at the Greenwood Street Head Start got a chance to explore pumpkins recently in honor of Halloween. Above left, Kylie Heggaton, 4, and Connor Kramer, 3, get their hands on some slippery pumpkin seeds. Above right, Hayley Bradley, 3, and Alec Arvon, 4, inspect the inside of their pumpkin. At left, Hayley and Alec remove the pumpkin’s slimy interior. The kids were encouraged to use the senses of smell and touch to learn about the pumpkins. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
This is what they want to do — explore.
— Carla Westman, team teacher,
"I think there's 56," he said of the seeds.
Arvon and the rest of his class got what was for many their first chance to cut open a pumpkin and examine the insides as part of an activity at the Greenwood Street Head Start recently.
"This is our science experiment to see what's inside," said team teacher Carla Westman. "We talk about how they grow from what's inside."
Using children's safety knives and with plenty of help from their teachers, the kids were allowed to open up the pumpkins and cut apart the rinds, using their hands and other senses to explore the vegetables.
"This is what they want to do - explore," Westman said. "It's good for their small motor muscles. It's good for their growing minds."
While it may seem a bit messy, letting 3-and 4- year-olds take apart a pumpkin, being able to get their hands full of the seeds and stringy insides is what makes the greatest impact.
"When they get to put their hands in things, they can learn," Westman said, as opposed to just hearing about pumpkins or looking at pictures.
With Halloween approaching, the pumpkin activity led to what the kids had planned for their own pumpkins at home.
"I just made a pumpkin, but I haven't put a face on it yet," said Kylie Heggaton, 4. "We have a bunch of pumpkins."
Heggaton and several of her classmates said they planned on putting "happy faces" on their jack-o'-lanterns at home.
Sylvie LaValley, 4, however, had a different plan.
"A Dracula face," LaValley said of her plan for her pumpkin. "I can carve it by myself, but my mom wants me to use gloves."
And all the kids knew what came next for the pumpkins - a spot outside with a candle inside to greet trick-or-treaters.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.