Sophie’s Squash, Rotten Pumpkins, and bringing stories to life

Last week in library class, the 2nd graders listened to the WCCPBA Nominee Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller.  I shared how I’d done something similar with my boy H, and it had produced actual pumpkins.  The lesson ended with an invitation for students to bring in small, mini pumpkins to plant during our next library class.

On Wednesday afternoon, I went outside to our school’s raised garden beds to see what I had to work with, and I found an overgrown mess.  Ack!  That night, I gathered all my hand-held garden tools, a big rake, and hoped for the best.


Since our school’s Virtue of the Month is service, I recruited some 2nd and 5th grade volunteers to help me clean up the beds at recess on Thursday.  The morning was bright, sunny…and 25 degrees.  Brrr!  The kids, though, were super-excited to help clear the beds.  In 30 minutes (15 for 2nd, 15 for 5th), the space looked ready!

The first class came in Thursday afternoon with 3 mini-pumpkins – perfect!  A quick picture walk through Sophie’s Squash started the lesson, followed by a more detailed walk through David Schwartz’s Rotten Pumpkin to show students what could happen (eaten by animals) or would happen (the rotting process) to our pumpkins.  Next, I shared the photographs from my story to illustrate how this could really work.  I didn’t have photos of the planting, but I remember it was on Thanksgiving Day (I had to get those pumpkins off my porch!).  Seeing these primary source photos was very powerful evidence!

After sharing my experience, it was time to head outside.  The raised beds are just outside the library’s back door for easy access, and I had a bucket of tools for students.  The beds looked great thanks to the service of my helpers, and we made quick work of digging holes, planting pumpkins, and stomping the ground as it was still around 35◦ outside.




Post-planting, students created signs to label the pumpkins: the name of the planter, the date, and the teacher’s name.  These will be put on the pumpkin stakes next week (as I had a book fair to set up).

Without question, this was a fantastic experience.  The students loved the stories and planting, the parent volunteers were thrilled to see how the library program extended learning, and I was excited to connect books to real-life experiences as we brought Sophie’s Squash to life.  Everyone’s excited for the fall of 2015 as we wait to see if our pumpkins grow!

One thought on “Sophie’s Squash, Rotten Pumpkins, and bringing stories to life

  1. Pingback: Library Lessons: Nov 19-21, 2014 – Jon Klassen, summary writing, planting pumpkins! | Librarian Arika

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