After all of the exciting fall festivities and exploration the children were able to do with pumpkins i.e. discovered if pumpkins float or sink, created a pumpkin volcano, tasted cooked pumpkin seeds and tried sprouting their own pumpkin plants from the seeds, it was now time to dispose of their pumpkins. Instead of throwing them away, some of the preschool classes added their pumpkin to the Outdoor Classroom Growing Patch. This is small, designated area of soil that the preschool classes can add seeds or plants to that they have been learning about in their classrooms to then further their exploration each time they pass by it in the Outdoor Classroom. It is fascinating to see how each pumpkin has decomposed differently. One of the pumpkins has completely disintegrated and all that is left is the skin of the pumpkin. It almost looks like popped balloon! Another pumpkin is starting to brown around the the top, but has yet to fall over or cave in. A third pumpkin has been split in half, so it very easy to see the decomposition process. The children are learning that once the pumpkin and its seeds decompose, they start their life cycle all over again by sprouting a new pumpkin plant. We are hopeful that our pumpkins will regrow, so that we will have pumpkins by next fall!

In addition to our knowledge about pumpkins, we have also been learning about seeds and harvesting. The children have been exploring the different ways that seeds are dispersed, i.e. by water, animals, explosion, wind, humans, etc. After a week of exploring seeds in the water, there was interesting discovery made: the beans had started to sprout! The students were so excited to show me as well as their teachers what had happened to the beans in the sensory bins. Naturally, we also added them to the growing patch to watch what would happen. We love being able to extend our learning from the classroom to the outdoors and make new discoveries along the way!

Lastly, as you can see, we also have flowers that are blooming and thriving. We love sharing with the children about how the soil is so rich with nutrients from the decomposing pumpkins and other plants that they get enough food from the soil to keep growing! They are also in the perfect spot to get an adequate amount of sun and rain. Sometimes we give the children an opportunity to water the plants if the soil is looking a little dry which keeps our growing patch alive and well!

Our growing patch is such a special aspect of our Outdoor Classroom because so much can be discovered and there are always new things sprouting up!