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Preschool Pumpkin Sensory Activity

Ms. Ruiz’s preschool class at the Fairmont Anaheim Hills Campus got into the Halloween spirit earlier this month with an exciting pumpkin-themed lesson. Ms. Ruiz used the festive fall activity to incorporate lessons about the five senses and plant life.

“I love everything about this lesson,” Ms. Ruiz shared. “I love that we can get messy, cover science, explore sensory, and have fun!”

During the lesson, students used their five senses to feel the pumpkin’s weight, slimy veins, and slippery seeds, hear the sounds produced from squishing its insides and drumming on its skin, smell its sweet and sometimes not so fresh odor, see its seeds with the assistance of magnifying glasses for a closer look, and taste yummy pumpkin baked goods. At the end of the activity, Ms. Ruiz carved the pumpkin into a jack-o’-lantern for Halloween fun and to further discuss the five senses.

“We talk about what [the jack-o’-lantern] would utilize his features for, mouth and tongue to taste, nose to smell, eyes to see, ears to hear, and make-believe hands to feel,” Ruiz explained about the lesson. “All five senses came together so nicely in this activity.”

As the students put their five senses into practice, Ms. Ruiz spoke with them about plant life, asking where pumpkins grow. She put their critical thinking and reasoning skills to the test to help them reach the correct answer.

“We talk about how heavy it is and how that might make it hard for it to grow from a tree,” Ruiz said. “[We discuss] how it has some residue and dirt on its skin so maybe it grows in the ground.”

While students examined the inside of the pumpkin, Ms. Ruiz asked them what the seeds were, using the opportunity to teach them about a plant’s life cycle and what is needed for a seed to successfully grow.

The festive activity was a success and delight. The students talked about their experiences throughout the day and excitedly shared with their parents about the project.

“[They] greeted their parents at pick-up time with something along the lines of, ‘I touched the pumpkin, and it was yucky!'” Ruiz remembers fondly. “I was very proud of how curious and brave they were to remove the veins and seeds from the inside of the pumpkin.”

This was the first time Ms. Ruiz had taught this activity in this way, normally having two separate activities for her five senses lesson and jack-o’-lantern carving.

“Due to fortuitous procrastination to purchase a pumpkin, the two activities collided into one lesson plan spot, and I don’t think I’ll ever teach them separately again!” Ruiz happily shared.

For any teachers or parents hoping to replicate the activity, Ruiz shares some friendly advice.

“If you encounter a child that is experiencing hesitation with any part of [the activity], assure that child that as his/her teacher or parent, you would never do anything with him/her that was unsafe or scary,” Ruiz said. “Model for them how fun it can be and express to them that if they still do not want to participate, that is absolutely okay.”

She also recommends asking a lot of open-ended questions to build critical thinking, and to, of course, have fun!

“For a preschooler to retain any covered material, it has to be entertaining,” said Ruiz. “When doing a lesson that engages their senses, the students remain intrigued, whether they are eager to participate in drumming on the pumpkin to hear how it sounds or totally grossed out at the idea of physically exploring or smelling its veins. Either way, an experience like this is hard to forget.”

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Shelby Wagner - 1st Grade Teacher Fairmont Historic AnaheimTop Teacher & Skating Champion
Shelby “My favorite part of being a teacher is the children I get to teach.”
  • Is one of the head teachers for the Fountain Valley Artistic Skating Club, teaching regional and national champions. She also teaches beginner classes every Saturday morning.
  • Every year, her students are amazed to find that their teacher has a life outside of the classroom.
“I love feeling like I’m part of a family [at Fairmont].”
Keira Kamath - 5th Grade Fairmont Anaheim HillsScience & Tennis Superstar
keira “I like how there are so many different specialty classes at Fairmont Anaheim Hills, like art, music, PE, science lab, computer lab, and Spanish.”
  • She would like to be a professional tennis player when she grows up, or maybe a doctor.
  • Loves dance and plays the piano
  • Her favorite class is science “because you get to figure out stuff, and I like to do experiments.”
Nicholas Aghaian - 7th Grade Fairmont Historic AnaheimKicking His Way to Med School
nicolas“The teachers and the amount of support they provide to not only me, but to the whole entire community here at Fairmont is probably what I like most about attending Fairmont Historic Anaheim.”
  • He would like to be a professional soccer player, or a doctor specializing in the field of sports medicine.
  • Enjoys basketball, piano, and soccer pitch.
  • His favorite subject is math “because I like to be challenged, and math is full of challenges.”
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dancing"What I like most about Fairmont is that I get to learn and meet new friends.”
  • He wants to be a professional dancer when he grows up.
  • Is trained in ballet and ballroom dancing.
  • Loves writing and creating new stories.
Nicole Heyman - Kindergarten Teacher Fairmont Anaheim HillsLaying a Foundation for Lifelong Learning
Nicole "The best part about teaching at Fairmont is being able to work with a diverse group of students who are all incredibly talented. It is amazing to be able to challenge students at such a young age and watch these children grow throughout the year.”
  • Loves camping, reading, and traveling
  • Her students love learning random things about her – like the fact that when she was in kindergarten she wanted to be Spiderman when she grew up.
  • Her proudest moments are the times when a student on campus is excited to see her, oftentimes telling her that she’s “the best teacher in the world.” “I live for those moments.”
“I choose to teach at Fairmont because of the sense of community, as well as the drive for our students to succeed.”
DJ Clovis - Music Teacher Fairmont North TustinRunning to the Rhythm
DJ Clovis “I get to work with amazing staff, faculty, parents, and most importantly, students!”
  • Teaches music to all grades — from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade
  • Coaches (or has coached) football, basketball, and Run Club
  • Plays bass trombone
  • NJHS Conflict Resolution Coach
  • He has run 15 marathons and 4 ultra marathons.
“The best part of teaching at Fairmont is the autonomy — being able to create a program that fits all of my students. At Fairmont North Tustin, I get to help with a lot of different activities.”