Squash exploration is a perfect integration of science, art, fine motor skills, and school readiness skills. Try squishin’ some squash to excite young children. And holiday time is the perfect time to turn preschoolers into food scientists.
Bring in several types of squash. Still have pumpkins around? Add them to the table or ask them to recall what they remember about cleaning their pumpkins. This will help activate background knowledge, an important school readiness skill.
Write words like seeds, pulp, and skin.
Ask them to look at types of squash you have in your classroom or home. You can encourage families to visit the local market to look at different types of squash on display. Some families may even use their mobile phones to take photos of this squash exploration.
Ask children to predict what the squash will look like when cut open. Either write class predictions on a chart or have each child draw a picture of what they think they will see. You can also encourage children to talk about and/or draw what they think the similarities and differences of each squash will be once cut open.
Encourage children to handle the squash. Ask them to use specific vocabulary to describe the squash as they take out seeds, feel the pulp, and touch the carved-out squash. Children can discuss their predictions. It is important to create an atmosphere where children are free to say, “My prediction was wrong.” We like to praise children for these words, as we want them to feel free to think creatively as they make guesses. We don’t want a classroom where only correct predictions are celebrated.
Finally, integrate art with your science project. This art can be an accurate representation of what was discovered. Have them glue actual seeds and ribbon or yarn to construction paper to show the inside of a squash.
Conclude the Squishy Squash Exploration by preparing a dish with squash and reading a book like Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow and Anne Wilsdorf to the class.