Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Countdown to Halloween - Pumpkin Theme

Today is the final day of the 13-day Countdown to Halloween. The theme for today is "Pumpkins." We did the following activities with food, nature/wildlife, and art:


Pumpkin Ginger Bread

This pin is linked to All Recipes. We enjoyed this bread for breakfast. It is moist and has a subtle flavor - despite 5 teaspoons of spices.

It did take a long time to bake the two 9x5 inch loaves, so perhaps making it in mini-loaves or cupcake pans would shorten the time it needs to bake and keep the exterior as soft as the interior of the bread.

Pumpkin Ginger Bread that I made.


3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease two 9x5 inch loaf pans.

In a large mixing, combine sugar, oil and eggs; beat until smooth. Add water and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin, ginger, allspice cinnamon, and clove.

In medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt, and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to pumpkin mixture and blend just until all ingredients are mixed. Divide batter between prepared pans.

Bake in preheated oven until toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour.

Pumpkin Face Snack

There was a simple idea on The Creative Mama that showed a pumpkin face made from raw okra, goldfish crackers, raisins, and banana.

Sophia's pumpkin face.

Instead of using the okra, we put the banana top on Sophia's plate. Olivia chose not to have the banana top on her plate.

Olivia's pumpkin face.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Some of the 6 cups of roasted pumpkin seeds 
that we made today.

We made roasted pumpkin seeds again this year. I saw a pin that was linked to a recipe in Hudson Valley Magazine.


1½ cups pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoon olive oil or non-stick cooking spray
1 teaspoon salt (Note: this is a lot of salt. It could be halved easily and still taste great.)


Separate seeds from pulp and strings. Rinse in water and pat dry.

Toss dried seeds in olive oil and place in a single layer on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (Or lay flat on baking sheet and spritz with cooking spray.) Season with salt

Place in 325º F oven, stirring often to ensure even browning until a pleasant aroma is apparent (approximately 25 minutes).

Remove immediately and transfer to pan or plate to cool. May be stored in air-tight container for a few days.


There was a pin that suggested carving a pumpkin and filling it with birdseed.

The carved pumpkin ready to have the bowl of birdseed added to it.

Looking closer at the pumpkin, there was a shallow ceramic plant tray filled with seed in the inside so the entire pumpkin isn't filled with seed.

The bowl of birdseed. There's another bowl underneath the white one.
Surrounding the bowl are scraps from the pumpkin. 
This is to hold the bowl in place.

So, we carved a pumpkin and put it out next to one of our feeders that is by where we spend the majority of our time homeschooling.

The regular feeder and the pumpkin feeder. 
There's a chickadee in the pumpkin eating some seeds.

It was less than an hour before the chickadees found the feeder. Not all of the chickadees ate from the pumpkin, but many of them did.

Here's another chickadee eating at the pumpkin feeder.

Art Projects

Carving Pumpkins

As we do every year, we carved pumpkins. Olivia didn't know what she wanted to make when she began cleaning out her pumpkin. She manged to clean the pumpkin out using a spoon and not her hands. She, by far, had the cleanest hands out of the three of us.

Olivia cleaning out her pumpkin.

Sophia picked the tallest pumpkin so she could make a scary cat face. Her cat has fangs and long whiskers.

Sophia working on the face of her pumpkin.

Montague enjoyed watching the pumpkin carving process, and checked out everyone's work. He manged to take a couple pieces of pumpkin when we were focused on carving.

Montague making the rounds to see how everyone is coming along 
on their pumpkin carving.

 Gretel was more well-mannered and just watched us carve the pumpkins. Maybe she was thinking that if she stared at us long enough we'd buckle under the pressure and give her some pumpkin scraps. It worked. We did.

Gretel staring at Sophia while she worked on her pumpkin.

One by one, we finished the pumpkins.

My pumpkin.

When they were done, they went on the counter briefly.

Sophia's pumpkin.

Then we put them outside. Tomorrow they will be lit and we'll see what they look like glowing in the dark.
Olivia's pumpkin. She made a dog complete with big carved floppy ears on the side
and a tail on the back of the pumpkin.

It was a fun way to spend the morning.

Positive/Negative Pumpkin

Olivia's Positive/Negative Pumpkin.

Sophia and Olivia made a Positive/Negative Pumpkin. The pin links to Art Projects for Kids. Each one was given a square piece of black paper and an orange that is half the width of the black. With the orange lying on top of the right side of the black, the girls were to imagine the center line as the middle of a pumpkin.

Sophia cutting out the pumpkin shapes from the orange paper.

Starting on the middle line, they drew half of a pumpkin. Next, one eye and one half of a mouth were drawn. When complete, the eye and mouth were cut out, all as complete shapes, not bits and pieces.

Olivia placing the orange pieces onto her black sheet of paper.

The newly-cut shapes were flopped from their cut out positions, and then glued down with a glue stick.

Sophia's Positive/Negative Pumpkin.


Lauren Ivy Chiong said...

GREAT Halloween activity ideas! Thanks so much for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Your Jack O Lanterns turned out great!

Fishcake_random said...

I really like the cat and dog pumpkins very creative
x x xj

Annette said...

So many great ideas here! And the bread looks really yummy. I hope you'll consider joining the Waldorf Wednesday link up!

Martha said...

How fun. We don't really celebrate haloween here, n we don't have huge pumpkins like you do! What fun it would be to try some carving.

Shannon said...

Such cute Halloween ideas! I just love this time of year. :) I was stopping by to remind you that Thirty Days of Giving Thanks starts today. I so enjoyed your journey last year and just wanted to make sure you knew about it. Happy November, Ann!