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Pumpkin Pie and Appreciation

What do fractions, estimations, history, evaluations, appreciation, a bit of history and pumpkin pie all have to do with each other?  They are all lessons learned by students in Mrs. Plants 3rd grade classroom.

Every fall, the third graders make pumpkin pies from scratch and deliver them to members of the Cedar Lake Fire Department and the Hanover Community School Administration to show their appreciation to both entities.

Volunteer Mom tries to get Keegan Clay to smell pumpkin

Volunteer Mom, Amy Dixon tries to get Keegan Clay and Beau Wiancek to smell the fresh pumpkin to be used for making pies as Jesus Campechano looks on from a safe distance.  

The exercise begins with students hollowing out real pumpkins, and with the help of the cafeteria staff, removing the pumpkin from the skin.  Students estimate how many seeds are in the pumpkins and then evaluate how they made their estimations and just how accurate or inaccurate they were.  Students also take a taste of the pumpkin after it has been removed from the skin and decide what it tastes like.  The answers are often understandable, and sometimes funny.  Depending on the student, the answers included everything from squash to Play-Doh.

Mom reads recipe with students.  Names below photo

Volunteer Mom, Sara Jane Childs does a final check of the pumpkin pie recipe with students (l to r); Max Byrne, Jack Lower, Aaron Wilson and Camden Tiger.


Two students play with egg beaters

Aaron Wilson and Camden Tigner like the old fashion egg beaters

In small groups of 4 or 5 students, with the help of parent volunteers, begin to make the filling for their pumpkin pie using hand tools.  To get the ingredients just right, students are required to use their fraction skills. Most seemed enthralled with the “old fashioned” egg beaters, but quickly discovered that our ability to “plug in a mixer,” is indeed a big step forward on the ease of use scale.  Almost all of the students said they help in the kitchen at home including helping to prepare such delicacies as mashed potatoes, spaghetti, French toast, and dirt pudding. 

boys mixing ingredients for pumpkin pie

Aaron Wilson, Leland Nielson, Beau Wiancek, and Keegan Clay decide the electric mixer is much easier to use than the manually powered egg beater. 

Volunteer Mom pours ingredients for pumpkin pie

As Mom, Sarah Jane Childs and her son, Jack Lower look on, Volunteer Mom, Martha Martinez helps Max Byrne measure the spices to add to the pumpkin pie they are making.  

The highlight of their efforts is delivering the 25 pies they make to the Cedar Lake Fire Department and the School Administration Building on a walking field trip.  The students are eager to thank the firefighters for; “keeping them safe and putting out fires.”  They are equally thankful for the Administration staff who; “pay our Nipsco bill, buy us books and hire teachers.”  Students also get to take some pie home to share with their families.   

students on floor in the hallway with teacher

Teacher Gay Plants continues the day's lessons with her students in the hallway, while they eagerly await their turn to make pumpkin pies!

The pumpkin pie baking lesson allows students to work together, show appreciation to those who make a difference in their lives, requires patience and more than just a few paper towels!