Autumn is finally here! In the past, I was the homeschool mom who would browse Pinterest for the cutest apple, acorn, and pumpkin-themed crafts and activities. I would print and laminate all the things to prepare for elaborate projects I had saved online. I would also stress myself out and overspend on crafts and projects that barely held my children’s interest. Over time, I learned these projects taught my children very little and were usually thrown in the trash.
As I studied and started implementing Charlotte Mason’s philosophies and methods in our homeschool, I have taken a different approach to studying specific topics like autumn or other seasonal themes. The Charlotte Mason way of learning emphasizes living books, narration, poetry, hand rhymes, songs, handcrafts, art, picture study, tea time, hands-on nature study, and real-life experiences. I prefer to focus on finding ways to experience the season or theme in nature, and by finding ways to incorporate it into other topics we are studying in our homeschool.
And you know what? This way of learning is so much simpler and way more meaningful. Over the years I have seen my children have genuine excitement and joy when we learn in intentional, practical ways and make memories together as a family.
With this in mind, here are some ways I like to integrate pumpkins into our homeschool as we dive into fall.
Living books and narration
First and foremost, every good study begins with books! Gather the books from this list and put them in a basket in your living room to read aloud, or for your children to read independently throughout the week. After reading aloud, ask children to narrate what was read or act out a part of the story. You can also use these books during a pumpkin tea party, as a reference when questions come up about pumpkins, and for art and notebooking inspiration.
Related: Narration in the Early Stages
Pumpkin book list
- Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White
- The Roll-Away Pumpkin by Junia Wonders
- Pick a Pumpkin by Patricia Toht
- Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington
- Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell
- From Seed to Pumpkin: A Fall Book for Kids by Wendy Pfeffer
- Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden by George Levenson
- The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons
- Farm Anatomy by Julia Rothman (page 57 - Squash and Pumpkins)
Poetry and picture study
We love using poetry for vocabulary, copy work, and pure enjoyment. It’s also fun to illustrate or act out the poem. I love this anonymous poem called "The Pumpkin." Download the FREE Pumpkins & Corn Week for an illustrated display of this poem.
Pumpkin picture study
Find a classic piece of art of a pumpkin patch or something similar or use the one included in the FREE Pumpkins & Corn Week download. Display the art to observe and enjoy it. Ask starter questions for further discussion and observation. Play a game I call "Hide and Describe." Have the child study the art for three to five minutes, encouraging them to pay attention to the details. Tell them to take a picture of it in their mind. Turn the picture over and ask them to describe it. See how many details they can remember. Replicate the art with watercolor or other art materials. Study the artist and the time period they were well known in.
Find the art print and all of these activities and more in the FREE Pumpkins & Corn Week download.
Hand-rhymes and songs
If you have young children, hand-rhymes and songs are great ways to teach about a subject organically, while getting their bodies moving. We like to add instruments, rhythm sticks, and streamers to our music time. Some of these are included in the FREE Pumpkins & Corn Week download, with illustrated lyrics and hand-motion sheets.
Handcrafts and art
(Photo courtesy of The Girl Creative)
Here are a few handcrafts and art projects that are perfect for a pumpkin study.
- Sculpt a pumpkin out of non-drying modeling clay. Polymer clay could be baked to make keepsake trinkets or add hooks for earrings.
- Follow a watercolor tutorial on how to paint a pumpkin. You could add this painting to your notebook pages if you keep a Nature Notebook.
- Make sock pumpkins or yarn pumpkins. These would make sweet gifts or centerpieces for a harvest table.
- Make pumpkin spice playdough.
- Do a still-life art experience. Use some small pumpkins and other props to make a small scene. Use a pencil to sketch the scene and then colored pencils or watercolor to paint it.
Baking and tea time
What would a pumpkin study be without baking? Here are some of our favorite pumpkin recipes. Gather your own favorite pumpkin recipes, invite your kids into the kitchen, and enjoy baking together. Then serve the treat at your pumpkin-themed tea time!
Pumpkin baking recipes
Pumpkin tea time
We love the Pumpkin Spice Rooibos Tea from Trader Joe's (we serve it with a little honey and cream). Spread out a tablecloth or old quilt on the table, add a beeswax candle, and invite your children to a pumpkin tea time. We like to read from our book basket when we have tea time, or you could simply just be together and enjoy what you have baked.
Experiences, nature study, and notebooking
Visit a pumpkin patch
Visit a pumpkin patch and pick your own pumpkins! I like to get a few small ones for decor and a large one per kid for carving. If you can’t visit a pumpkin patch, a farmer’s market or produce stand works too. One year we even took sketching materials and drew pumpkins on clipboards at our local produce market.
Do a pumpkin investigation
Investigate by weighing and measuring a pumpkin. See if it floats or sinks. Cut it open and count the seeds. Put the seeds in groups of 10s for math practice and easier counting. Learn what the different parts of the pumpkin are called. You can find a worksheet for a Pumpkin Investigation in the FREE Pumpkins & Corn Week download.
Write a pumpkin notebook entry
Using books and the internet, help your child write a notebook entry summarizing what they have learned as they have studied pumpkins. Add their painting or picture of a pumpkin, investigation findings, photos, and a journal entry about their experiences at the pumpkin patch and cutting open and/or carving their pumpkin.
Treehouse Nature Study: Autumn
If you enjoyed this Pumpkin Study, you'll love my full Autumn nature curriculum, Treehouse Nature Study: Autumn. This 13-week seasonal nature study includes all of the essential elements of a Charlotte Mason curriculum. It is a gentle guide meant to invite various ages to connect with each other and the world around them through living books, nature notebooking, hands-on projects, and beauty subjects like poetry, picture study, and folk songs.