Pumpkin learning 

This is the time of year for pumpkin coffee. And pumpkin milk shakes, pumpkin bread, and, of course, pumpkin pie. At Tinc Road, a long-standing first grade tradition is pumpkin math, science, and language arts.

With the help of parent volunteers, first-graders engaged in hands-on learning activities using the decorative and (arguably tasty) squash. The students identified parts of a pumpkin, estimated and then measured the height and weight of their pumpkins, and then checked to see if they sank or floated when placed in water.

Parents assisted students with carving open the pumpkins and the kids used scoops and even their hands to remove the seeds and pulp. After grouping the seeds in piles of 10, the students reinforced their addition skills by counting them.

“These activities bring real-world ideas into learning,” said teacher Dana Zagame. “And the involvement of parents strengthens home/school connections. Most students had never carved a pumpkin before, so maybe this will be a start of a new holiday tradition for some families.”

After the pumpkins were transformed into jack-o’-lanterns, some were left in the classrooms for several days so the students could observe what happens when they are exposed to air. This was a follow-up to a Scholastic News article the classes had read which discussed the pumpkin life cycle and how rotted pumpkins give birth to new ones when the seeds take root.

Early in the week, the first-graders had listened to “The Pumpkin Book,” a story by Gail Gibbons. The informational text provides facts about different kinds of pumpkins, the parts of a pumpkin, and the uses of pumpkins. Another book, “From Seed to Pumpkin,” was read and students used their learning to write about the sequence of pumpkin growth.


Halloween buyback

Americans typically purchase about 300,000 tons of Halloween candy each year. According to the University of Alabama, the average Halloween haul contains up to 7,000 calories; UA estimates that it would take a 100-pound child 44 hours of walking or 14 1/2 hours of playing full-court basketball to burn off the calories in the average Halloween candy bag. That’s a lot of exercise! And those calories don't even factor in the amount from leftover candy purchased by parents that went undistributed.

Budd Lake dentist Dr. Steven Abrams rescued Tinc Road students from some of those extra calories. On November 1 and November 4, he purchased leftover candy from students to donate to Operation Gratitude and Ronald McDonald House. A total of 225 pounds of leftover candy was brought in by students, many of whom donated the buyback money that they received to the charities.

Operation Gratitude is a program that sends care packages to U.S. troops, veterans, new recruits, and military children. Ronald McDonald House creates, finds, and supports programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children, according to its mission statement. RMH is most notably known for providing lodging to parents whose children are undergoing out-of-area medical treatment.

Students also wrote get well cards for the children at RMH, as well as letters and cards for veterans, active military personnel, and first-responders. In all, more than 300 pieces of correspondence were written.

This is the fourth year in which Dr. Abrams has sponsored the annual Halloween candy buyback.

Sandshore Elementary School

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Budd Lake, NJ 07828
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24 Tinc Road
Flanders, NJ 07836
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