Learning through pumpkins

Elyssa Parnell Staff Writer

8 months 17 days 20 hours ago | | | Email | Print

PROSPERITY — Providing their students with a unique way to learn the different parts of a book, Debbie Scurry and Donna Shealy at Prosperity-Rikard Elementary helped them create pumpkins to look like book characters of their choice.

Scurry teaches a special needs class at the school for first through fifth grade students. Shealy is the class’ student teacher, studying at Lander University. Together they serve the Mid-Carolina are elementary schools.

Scurry said her class has been learning about the different elements of a book, including the title, author, illustrator, and dedication. They have also learned the difference between fiction and non-fiction books.

Following learning about the parts of a book, Scurry said the students then choose a character out of a book to write about, then decorate their pumpkin to look like their book character.

“It is a fun way to incorporate something related to fall, without stressing Halloween,” Scurry said. “The students come up with decorations, and they have never been at a loss of what to do.”

The pumpkins are purchased at the Asheville Farmer’s Market during the school’s fourth grade field trip. This year, Scurry’s class had pumpkins disguised as a pig, a gingerbread man, a dog, cat, ninja, alligator, frog, flamingo, dinosaur, horse, and a jack-o-lantern.

This project is also used to make a students a book of their own through Student Treasures publishing. The students’ pictures and writing about their pumpkins are sent off and bound, so that each student has their own book, further showing them the process of how books are created.

Scurry said she has done the project a number of times, but is constantly amazed at the incredible creativity of her students and the effort and enthusiasm they put into the process.

This was Shealy’s first time being a part of a project such as this one, which she used as her unit sample for her student teaching requirement.

“When given the opportunity, students are extremely creative and use ideas for their pumpkins that I wouldn’t have thought of,” Shealy said. “The students are excited from beginning to end and the success that the students have in completing their projects makes it extremely rewarding for them, and for me as an educator.”

Elyssa Parnell can be reached at 803-276-0625, ext. 108 or at


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