Students at Douglas Annex gather pumpkins in celebration of a decades-long tradition of learning and fun

Schools & Students

“This is ridiculously heavy,” exclaims a giggling young boy as he hoists a pumpkin in front of his chest. The grade two student is enjoying Sir James Douglas Annex’s annual Pumpkin Patch, a tradition the French immersion school has maintained for more than 25 years.

First thing in the morning, a truck delivers almost 200 pumpkins. Teachers and parents then spread the gourds around the school field to create a spectacular fall tableau. This year the truck arrived before all of the students had made it into their classrooms after the first bell so some of them helped out with the distribution. Once the scene is set, each class is led out to collect their pumpkins.

 "I look forward to the pumpkin patch every year,” enthuses Giordano. “You might get to roll the pumpkins down the hill.”

 “We clean them when we take them into the classroom,” adds Olivia. Both are students in Mme Jessica’s grade three class. Mme Jessica remembers loving the pumpkin patch when she was a student here at Douglas Annex herself many years ago. Now she’s excited about the many pumpkin-themed lessons she has planned for her kids and their squashes.

 “In grade three we do a lot of measurement, counting seeds,” she says. “We tally up how many we have as a class. I’ll go on a pumpkin seed roasting marathon over the weekend and then we’ll eat them.” 

 Mme Jessica incorporates the pumpkins into more than just math. “I also do a mindful practice with our pumpkins where we smell and we touch, we become best friends with our pumpkins so that we can recognize it after,” she says. And finally when the pumpkins have been decorated, the kids get to take them home.

The pumpkin activities are different in Mme Ashley’s grade one class. “We measure them with blocks and then we line them up from biggest to smallest,” she explains. “We do some science – which ones will roll the fastest, and we make predictions.”

 The pumpkins are at the centre of many art and writing lessons as well. “We make crowns or glasses for them,” says Mme Ashley. “We paint them, give them faces. We write a couple of sentences about our pumpkins. Especially in French, il s'apell… and they’ll write what they named the pumpkin and describe it a little bit.”

 Jin, the mom of a grade 3 student, is helping out this morning. “The kids really enjoy it,” she says. “For them, since it’s their fourth year doing this, they get to do some peer mentoring too.”

 Everyone agrees the pumpkin patch offers a wonderful opportunity to run around outside on a beautiful fall day.