Some of my favorite time with children is spent baking. Children love it, and if I am not too performance driven, I love every minute, too! Baking with toddlers can also be a disaster, if you are not prepared or try to make extravagant things with too many steps. Baking should be fun. Baking can also be a math lesson, an art lesson, and a culinary experience. It is a time to bond and a time to create. I have two favorite things to make with toddlers, especially around the holidays: bread and apple crisp, two easy baking projects.
It’s pumpkin time in Western Massachusetts, surrounding us with their plump beauty of orange (and even white, red and yellow!). I try to stretch the pumpkin and squash season out to make the most of this harvest season. Working with toddlers makes me really appreciate the sensory experience a fruit can give them.
Called “pompions” by the first European colonists, pumpkins were a food essential to winter survival – and they were grown in many more varieties than they typically are today. The custom of carving pumpkins into Jack O’Lanterns was introduced to American culture by Irish immigrants, influencing our cultural landscape to this day. Traditionally carved from root vegetables, including turnips and potatoes, new hybrids of pumpkins are grown specifically for carving.
There are so many different uses for pumpkins! One of America’s oldest native crops, modern day uses include carving as ornaments for Halloween, prepared as pies, and highlighted as a main attraction in agricultural fairs (largest pumpkin contests) and fall festivals (pumpkin roll & pumpkin games). Needless to say, pumpkins are an integrated part of our fall traditions in Western Massachusetts.
While Colonial Americans did not celebrate Halloween, their interest in pumpkins was food-based rather than a holiday decoration. Support a farm to table interest by incorporating fresh pumpkin into your culinary adventures!
Think About This: Pumpkins and a Sense of Place
Who am I? Where am I? These are the fundamental questions proposed by the humanities. Inquiries related to local history, literature, and education, inspire us to think deeply about the places where we live and how our identity fits into the context of our community and the seasons.
Funded in part by Mass Humanities, Learning Ahead: Cultural Itinerary for Western Massachusetts is a NEW bimonthly publication produced by Hilltown Families that sheds light on embedded learning opportunities found in cultural resources that exist within the geography, history, and cultural traditions of Western Massachusetts.
By emphasizing place-based exploration through humanities inquiry, these cultural itineraries connect residents of all ages to their place, helping to shape a more comprehensive understanding of our cultural identity, heritage, and history. This contributes to establishing meaningful relationships between young people and elders, and more active citizens.
With these FREE downloadable seasonal itineraries, self-directed teens, lifelong learners, and families are encouraged to engage together in cultural opportunities that support similar interests, resulting in a shared history and a strengthened sense of place. Click through to download a free 38-page PDF!
From apples to skillet tossing, jack-o’-lanterns to leaf peeping, western Massachusetts is full of opportunities for community-based learning during the fall. Families can visit farms for pick-your-own opportunities, explore the local landscape for signs of the season, or take part in community celebrations to honor the fall harvest and the cultural traditions that it brings.
This month in “Let Them Grow: Fresh Ways to Engage Toddlers in Creative Free Play,” Candice shares four pumpkin-based craft projects you can do with your toddlers that support creative-free play while celebrating the season!
QUESTION AND ANSWERS Where’s a good place to pick pumpkins with the kids in Western MA? Patricia McCarthy Krutiak recommends, “Whitney’s Farm Stand. Route 8. Cheshire, MA.” (Berkshire Co.) Heather Dunham Katsoulis recommends, “Westview Farms Creamery in Monson (Hampden Co.); Austin Brothers Valley Farm in Belchertown (Hampshire Co.); and Fletcher Farm in Southampton (Hampshire Co.). Jessica J Logsdon recommends, “Whitney’s Farm in Cheshire.” (Berkshire Co.) Nancyjo Craig Rongner recommends, “We always go… Read More