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Pumpkin Pile Up with Jeff Stegosaurus & Ella Iguanodon

Updated on September 23, 2015
JM Paschen profile image

JM has written articles for 23 years and authored 3 books. She leads teacher development workshops and owns a restaurant in Colorado.

U-Pick_Em Fresh Veggie Soup

Jeff & Ella in the Pumpkin Patch
Jeff & Ella in the Pumpkin Patch | Source
Kids can help pick farm fresh vegetables for delicious homemade soup!
Kids can help pick farm fresh vegetables for delicious homemade soup! | Source

Stingy Jack-o-Lantern Turnips?

Soup’s On!

“Can I help with the soup?” Ella Iguanodon asked the teacher as she set up the crock pot in their classroom.

“We’re all going to help,” the teacher answered. “First, we wash the veggies we harvested at the farm yesterday. Remember, if it doesn’t go in our soup, you get to take home!”

Kids waited pretty patiently to wash their vegetables. Only a few carrots and onions were waved under someone’s nose in line. When Ella got to the sink she scrubbed her softball sized onions, carrots as long as a ruler, slightly squishy green and red chile peppers, a green and white ‘leek’ that looked like a green onion, curly leaves of kale, Peaches and Cream sweet corn, and lots and lots of potatoes. She dropped her cauliflower on the floor.

“Oh boy, I can’t use it now,” Ella said.

Her friend Jeff Stegosaurus was in line behind her. “Don’t worry,” Jeff said. “I picked plenty.”

Ella elbowed him and he grunted. “No you didn’t,” she told him quietly. “I don’t like cauliflower.”

“You might be surprised by the witches’ brew, Ella,” their teacher said. “Everything you put in seems to taste great!”

“A witches’ brew?” Jeff whispered nervously.

“Not really. It’s kind of a joke name. I call our classroom veggie soup project a witches’ brew because we each add all kinds of fresh vegetables from the farm field trip and watch it bubble and boil,” the teacher said. “Then, ‘poof’ it always turns out to be the best tasting soup ever!”

Jeff sighed. “No real witches show up then?”

“None,” their teacher promised. “And Ella may even like the cauliflower.”

“Now that really would be magic,” Ella said.

U-Pick-Em Pumpkins & Fresh Veggies

“My grandma took pictures on our class field trip yesterday,” Ella told Jeff. She showed him prints of the images.

Jeff saw images of both he and Ella harvesting handfuls of vegetables in different parts of the field their class had visited. Ella plucked a large yellow onion that was half the size of her head. He gently brushed the dirt from freshly dug red potatoes. He pulled dry ears of ornamental corn from the stalks and peeked at the blue, red, yellow, and white kernels. Ella picked a pumpkin to carve as a jack-o-lantern. Ella’s pumpkin was tall, like a rounded rectangle, with plenty of room for the mouth and eyes. Jeff’s pumpkin was more of an ellipse, with room for a smart-guy grin and squinty wise eyes. Jeff thought his pumpkin was perfect.

“I wonder when people started carving jack-o-lanterns,” Ella said, her pumpkin in her lap.

“Me too!” Jeff flipped through his magazine and started to read out loud.

History of Halloween

According to the Library of Congress, Halloween began with the November 1st Celtic calendar new year and the festival Samhain (pronounce – sah-ween) where the Celts believed that harvest time was when the dead were most able to blend with the living. They lit bonfires to help the dead on their journey and keep them away from the living, wore costumes, and tried to tell each other’s fortunes.

In 601 A.D. Pope Gregory the First told Christian missionaries not to destroy native beliefs. They were to advise people to dedicate what they worshipped to Christ and then allow the continued worship. Church holy days were set to overlap with native holy days. For example, December 25th was a mid-winter celebration for many peoples and also marked as Christmas.

The Christian festival of All Saints Day, or All Hallows day, was assigned to November 1st and was meant to substitute for Samhain, but that’s not quite what happened. The old beliefs didn’t completely end. Instead, the evening before became a time of activity and celebration. Called “All Hallows Eve” or “Hallowe’en”, people continued to wear costumes or masks and set out gifts of food and drinks for roaming spirits.

As the centuries wore on, people dressed like witches, ghosts, and skeletons and did tricks to get food and drink. Harvest customs like bobbing for apples, giving out fruits and nuts, or drinking spiced cider are also associated with the Hallowe’en.

In America, Halloween was not popular at first and mostly observed in Maryland and further south. As Native Americans meshed with European groups, distinctly American versions of Halloween appeared. By the 1920s and 1930s, hooligans and vandals began to cause trouble during the holiday. But by the 1950s, town leaders had shifted the focus of Halloween towards children and moved most celebrations to schools, homes, or neighborhoods where everyone knew each other. Trick-or-treat became a way for people to celebrate and avoid ‘tricks’ by providing children with treats.

Halloween by the 1950s was a truly American tradition and its popularity continues to grow today. Around $6 billion is spent every year on Halloween in the U.S.; it is the second largest commercial holiday after Christmas.

Mystery & Superstition

The history of Halloween is filled with mystery, superstition, and friendly spirits. Superstitions may have come from Europe or Ancient Egypt, where crossing paths with black cats or walking under a ladder was thought to bring bad luck. People were taught to avoid breaking a mirror, or stepping on a crack, or spilling salt. Still, many autumn customs focused on the future. Young women might toss apple peels over their shoulders and hope their future husband’s initials could be spelled out in the mess. A cook might hide a ring in the mashed potatoes in hopes that the diner who found it would also find true love. Girls might eat a sugary mix of walnuts, hazelnuts, and nutmeg at night and dream of their future husbands – or at least have a stomachache.

Stingy Jack-o-Lantern Turnips?

The tradition of carving pumpkins and lighting them like lanterns dates back to Ireland and a folktale about “Stingy Jack”. It seems that Stingy Jack had a drink with the devil and didn’t want to pay for it, so the devil turned himself into a coin so Jack could pay, but Jack kept the coin instead, putting it in his pocket next to a silver cross. Eventually, Jack made a deal with the devil and released him, but when Jack died, God didn’t want him in heaven and the devil didn’t want him either. Jack was given a burning coal to light his way and left to wander the Earth.

Ever since, people have carved “Jack’s lanterns” out of beets, turnips, and potatoes. The Jack-o-lanterns are placed near doors to keep Jack and other spirits away. Beets were most often used until immigrants brought this tradition to the United States where they found the perfect fruit for Jack-o-lanterns, the pumpkin!

Recipe: Make your own “Witches’ Brew” Fresh Veggie Soup

You need:

- 4 cups (1-32 ounce box) of low-salt veggie or chicken broth or stock

- 1 large onion chopped

- 3 carrots chopped

- 2 green chilies chopped

- ½ cup chopped celery, chopped celery leaves can be added as an herb

- 2 cups peeled and diced potatoes, sweet potatoes, or squash

- ½ cup chopped kale

- 2 ears of sweet corn sliced from the cob

- Kosher or sea salt to taste

- ½ teaspoon of black or white pepper

- Juice of a lemon or lime if available

- Optional: add ½ pound of cooked and diced chicken, beef or tofu

- For a creamier soup: add ½ cup milk or half-n-half and garnish servings with a dollop of cream, maybe diced green onion or chive, and shredded cheese

- Flavor enhancers: 1 teaspoon ground cumin, ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon chicken or beef bouillon granules, or herbs like thyme, parsley, cilantro

- Substitute or leave out veggies willy-nilly – it’s all good!

You do:

- Pour the stock or broth in a slow cooker or stove stock pot – bring to a simmer

- Add veggies, saving pre-cooked chicken, lemon juice, spices & herbs for later

- Cover and simmer on low until veggies are fork tender, about 30 minutes

- Add chicken or tofu and season to taste. Add herbs & lemon juice. Stir

- You’ll be amazed at how great the soup tastes with the fresh veggies!

Make this ‘brew” after visiting a farmers’ market or farm, or getting fresh produce at the store.


Recipe: Cool & Creepy Apple-Cabbage Salad Shhh, don’t tell the kids that it’s good for you!

You need:

- 2 cups finely sliced or shredded cabbage (can use a bag of coleslaw)

- 2-3 peeled and diced apples – use your favorite

- ¼ dried cranberries or golden raisins

- Optional: ¼ cup of sunflower seeds, slivered almonds, or chopped pistachios

You do:

- Toss ingredients with your choice of:

  • ¼ cup apple cider or white vinegar & ¼ olive oil, or
  • ½ cup of light mayonnaise – enjoy!

Activity: Make Your Own Cushion for the Pumpkin Patch

You need:

- Used or new cushioned mailing envelopes (the ones with bubble wrap inside)

- Duct tape in your favorite colors or patterns

You do:

- Stack 2 or 3 padded envelopes together

- Start wrapping the envelope stack with Duct tape. Wrap completely to make the cushion waterproof. Use additional tape or permanent markers to decorate.

- Enjoy! These really work for football or soccer games, picnics, gardening, or even to teach a toddler it’s time to sit down – and if you lose one, you can just make another!

Kid Friendly Veggie & Chicken Soup

5 stars from 1 rating of Fresh Kid Friendly Veggie & Chicken Soup

Farm Fresh Soup - You can't get it wrong

Homemade soup with farm fresh veggies is easy because you can't get it wrong!

Start with 4 cups of low sodium broth or stock, bring to a simmer on the stove or in a crock pot, add chopped veggies of your choice and simmer until fork tender, about 30 minutes. Add pre-cooked chicken, beef, or tofu if you like, but the veggies are good on their own!

Season with chopped fresh herbs or sprinkle with dry herbs like parsley or cilantro. Salt & pepper to taste. Squeeze in the juice of a lemon for a fresh flavor that pops!

Like magic, when kids pick-em they tend to eat-em!


Picking Kale

Picking fresh kale
Picking fresh kale | Source

Picking Farm Fresh

Kids can't wait to pick and choose fresh veggies from the field or farmers' market. They're pretty good at picking these in the grocery store too! Make the soup from what they choose and enjoy - they'll eat up for sure.

'Painted Pumpkin' Ornamental Squash

Make table decorations with ornamental squash.
Make table decorations with ornamental squash. | Source
Painted pie pumpkins or ornamental squash make long lasting decorations.
Painted pie pumpkins or ornamental squash make long lasting decorations. | Source

Easy Painted Pumpkin Table Decorations

  1. Choose small pie pumpkins or ornamental squash. Use acrylic paints or permanent markers to create fun faces or patterns on the 'pumpkin',
  2. Display your pumpkin alone or with ornamental corn or squash. Happy Harvest!

Witches' Brew Fresh Veggie & Chicken Soup

Witches' Brew is simply  a fresh veggie soup with added pre-cooked chicken and herbs.
Witches' Brew is simply a fresh veggie soup with added pre-cooked chicken and herbs. | Source

Witches Brew

Recipe: Make your own “Witches’ Brew” Fresh Veggie Soup

You need:

- 4 cups (1-32 ounce box) of low-salt veggie or chicken broth or stock

- 1 large onion chopped

- 3 carrots chopped

- 2 green chilies chopped

- ½ cup chopped celery, chopped celery leaves can be added as an herb

- 2 cups peeled and diced potatoes, sweet potatoes, or squash

- ½ cup chopped kale

- 2 ears of sweet corn sliced from the cob

- Kosher or sea salt to taste

- ½ teaspoon of black or white pepper

- Juice of a lemon or lime if available

- Optional: add ½ pound of cooked and diced chicken, beef or tofu

- For a creamier soup: add ½ cup milk or half-n-half and garnish servings with a dollop of cream, maybe diced green onion or chive, and shredded cheese

- Flavor enhancers: 1 teaspoon ground cumin, ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon chicken or beef bouillon granules, or herbs like thyme, parsley, cilantro

- Substitute or leave out veggies willy-nilly – it’s all good!

You do:

- Pour the stock or broth in a slow cooker or stove stock pot – bring to a simmer

- Add veggies, saving pre-cooked chicken, lemon juice, spices & herbs for later

Make your own waterproof cushion with padded envelopes and Duct tape

Stack of padded envelopes
Stack of padded envelopes | Source
Zebra pattern Duct tape - lots of colors and patterns available.
Zebra pattern Duct tape - lots of colors and patterns available. | Source
Stadium cushion made with padded envelopes or foam padding wrapped in Duct tape - Duct tape handle added.
Stadium cushion made with padded envelopes or foam padding wrapped in Duct tape - Duct tape handle added. | Source
Bubble wrap with Duct tape to decorate and secure it as a cushion.
Bubble wrap with Duct tape to decorate and secure it as a cushion. | Source

Cabbage & Apple Slaw with Cranberries

Fresh cabbage and chopped apples make a delicious fall slaw with cranberries.
Fresh cabbage and chopped apples make a delicious fall slaw with cranberries. | Source

Apple Cabbage Salad with Dried Cranberries

Cool Apple-Cabbage Salad Shhh, don’t tell the kids that it’s good for you!

You need:

- 2 cups finely sliced or shredded cabbage (can use a bag of coleslaw)

- 2-3 peeled and diced apples – use your favorite

- ¼ dried cranberries or golden raisins

- Optional: ¼ cup of sunflower seeds, slivered almonds, or chopped pistachios

You do:

- Toss ingredients with your choice of:

  • ¼ cup apple cider or white vinegar & ¼ olive oil, or
  • ½ cup of light mayonnaise – enjoy!

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