Prather’s Pick: Lots and lots of pumpkin seeds
October 13, 2015
Pumpkins! They come in all sizes, are brightly colored, and they're fun to carve. That means removing all the pulp and seeds. Did you ever wonder how many seeds are in a pumpkin? Does a large pumpkin have more seeds than a small one? That's just what Mr. Tiffin's first grade class is about to find out.
"How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?" is a picture book intended for ages 3 to 7 written by Margaret McNamara and illustrated by G. Brian Karas. The book was published by Schwartz and Wade Books (2007). It's one of twelve books in the Robin Hill School series.
I may have reviewed this book last fall. I found it on the shelf with my kids' books this weekend, and it is such a good book that it bears being reviewed again.
As the story begins, 10 students are lined up by size, as usual — smallest to tallest or
tallest to smallest. Robert is the tallest; Charlie is the smallest. When the students get into the classroom, they find three bright orange pumpkins of different sizes on Mr. Tiffin's desk. The
pumpkins are small, medium and large.
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Mr. Tiffin (a terrific teacher) challenges the kids. Can they guess how many seeds are in each pumpkin? The students guess. Robert thinks the biggest pumpkin has the most seeds — about a million. Elina thinks the medium pumpkin has 500, and Anna guesses that the little pumpkin has 22. Mr. Tiffin writes all of the guesses on the blackboard.
So the next day, the students bring bowls, spoons, and newspapers and put on their smocks. It's messy but fun to scoop out the pulp and pick out the seeds. Before long there are three bowls full of seeds and 20 hands that need to be washed.
The students' homework is to figure out how to count the seeds. Meanwhile, Mr. Tiffin dries the seeds. The next day the students divide into three groups. One group counts the seeds by twos, another group counts by fives, and Charlie takes the smallest pumpkin and counts by tens.
Pretty soon each group has the seeds in front of them according to the counting method chosen. Then the kids count the exact number of seeds. There's a surprise in store for the class. Then Mr. Tiffin gives the students some clues to use in telling if a pumpkin has a lot or not so many seeds.
Besides counting pumpkin seeds, there is another message in this book about people sizes. There's also a list of pumpkin facts and a note from Mr. Tiffin.
The author won a gold Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Best Book Award for "The Pumpkin Patch," another book in the series. She has also written "The Apple Orchard Riddle."
It would be great fun to carry out the pumpkin seed investigation with kids at home or at school. I love this book!
"How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin" can be found at the Craig Moffat County Library (where I first found it) or you can order it through Downtown Books (which is what I did — two books, one for me and one for my daughter-in-law Cindy who teaches first grade at Vernal). The book costs $15.99 in hardcover.