Cooking with Pumpkins
Sarah Chaffee, November 12, 2017
This week was the coldest of Forest Preschool thus far; the children who participated in the Weather Check noticed a big change in temperature and recorded their findings on a new poster broad (this week also marked a month of them observing the weather!). Since fire and food go hand-in-hand on chilly days, this week the preschoolers focused on cooking with pumpkins!
Hillary-Joy and the preschoolers playing on the climbing logs.
On Monday the children gathered close for Opening Circle under the oak tree. They watched as strong gusts of wind blew the leaves down from trees still bearing fall colors and enjoyed trying to catch them before they landed on the ground. After singing a song about birds looking for sweet treats, they pretended they were squirrels looking for acorns, hickory nuts and pumpkins while they went to put on their backpacks. On their way down to Trillium Camp, they discovered two pumpkins hidden in the woods! They gathered them and took turns proudly carrying them down to camp.
Two children exploring a scout pit.
The preschoolers enjoyed playing in the re-sanded sand box that was filled during the weekend’s work party. The children used a large bucket and put sand, mud, water and other ingredients they could find in it and stirred the mixture with a large stick to make a magic potion. For snack the children sat in the log circle and were just about to listen to a story when it began to rain! They quickly gathered their snacks and ran into the pavilion to get shelter from the downpour.
Preschoolers having a laugh during lunch.
After snack they worked on felting the wool they dyed back in September. Melissa showed the preschoolers how to use water and a little bit of soap to change the texture of the wool and how to use their hands to turn the wool into long “snakes.” They hope to use these pieces for a weaving project. The children also enjoyed removing the seeds from the two pumpkins they found. Once the top of the pumpkin, or the “hat” as the preschoolers liked to call it, was taken off, they stuck their hands inside the pumpkins and tried to grab as many seeds as they could. They put the seeds in a large pot and were amazed to see how many there were from just two small pumpkins!
A preschooler using clippers to collect plants to add to the roof of the shelter.
On Tuesday Forest Preschool roasted the pumpkin seeds harvested from the day before over a fire. They also found another coconut and enjoyed trying to crack it open. When they did, the children were surprised to see that this one had coconut milk on the inside! On Wednesday the preschoolers were excited to see what was in the daily mystery bag. As it was passed around, the children said their guesses- “A hickory nut!” Seashells!” “Gold!” The bag was tipped over and out rolled the longest acorn they had ever seen! Later in the day, some of the preschoolers helped Melissa with adding walls to the shelter. Others went with Hillary-Joy on a wander to Cedar Camp and Grandmother Hickory and the rest helped Sarah with a fire. During lunch, apple cider was served out of the carved pumkins. They enjoyed the added pumpkin flavor to their drink.
Jesse helping a preschooler break a log for firewood.
The Thursday preschoolers had two special guest instructors- Jesse and Siri, both Primitive Pursuits staff members. In the morning they completed the Weather Check and gathered wood for a fire. During snack they enjoyed warming their hands by the fire and listening to a story told by Siri. Melissa also brought out a bucket of special rocks she had found while hiking in the Adirondacks. She explained that these rocks had been formed in a volcano and were called “igneous rocks.” They all watched as Jesse, using tongs, carefully put the rocks into the coals of the fire.
Rock boiling apple cider in an emptied pumpkin.
After snack, the children helped Siri rake leaves onto a tarp. Together they carried the tarp over to the shelter and poured the leaves onto the roof, making sure that the entire roof was covered in a thick layer of leaves. Melissa helped some preschoolers use clippers to cut plants that would also be good for roof and wall cover on the shelter. Jesse tended to the fire and had some help from the preschoolers, who liked to kick apart logs that Jesse was sawing and adding to the fire and wood box. During lunch, the preschoolers watched as the rocks from the coals were added to pumpkins filled with apple cider. Melissa explained that this method of cooking is called “rock boiling.” Once the cider had cooled, the preschoolers cups were filled with the delicious drink and many asked for seconds!
Melissa and a preschooler during Closing Circle.
Thank you for reading. The Forest Preschool staff also wants to thank everyone who helped make Trillium Camp look beautiful during last weekend's work party and ancestor potluck!