Thursday, 19 September 2013

The Pumpkin Runner

The Pumpkin Runner, by Marsha Diane Arnold, is a picture book based on a true story of an Australian runner, Cliff Young, who in his sixties won a running race between Sidney and Melbourne. It is featured in volume four of Five in a Row although we did our own unit study.

I read this book with my two younger children aged 4 and 6. This book is an ideal springboard to study Australia but there are also autumnal and mathematical themes.

A kind Australian friend had given us a calendar with pictures of Australian animals. The relevant year was past so we cut and pasted the pictures and talked about marsupials.

Australia is such a memorable shape. My children describe it as the "dog's head". It seemed the right time to colour maps. Both the children are interested in maps and enjoyed finding Australia on a globe. We discussed seasons and months in Australia and the UK. Having Spring in September, October and November is initially a strange concept.

This week had a food theme. The book talks about pumpkins and various dishes made from them. Our pumpkin became soup.
It seemed the right opportunity to make some other Australian food.
Making damper bread-this tasted good but had a dreadful tendency to fall apart.

 Anzac biscuits. This recipe was made by wives and mothers in the First World War to send to sons and husbands fighting in Europe.

Pavlova-not at all healthy but Younger Daughter had wanted to make this for a long time! 

The pumpkin had to earn its keep. Before being consigned to soup it was weighed and measured.

It was drawn,

predictions were made about its contents which were then inspected

and the seeds counted.
I attempted to dry the seeds for bread but they have turned out rather tough and fibrous.

We were also able to use the cut outline to learn about area. We placed the pumpkin on greaseproof paper and drew round the outside. The pumpkin was removed and the paper cleaned before making a grid of 1 centimetre squares which were then counted. The concept of  measuring area was new to Younger Daughter and this was enjoyable way to learn.

This book naturally introduces the theme of perseverance so we talked about this and the analogy of the Christian life being a race.

This was a satisfying and fun way to learn about a different land.
We have previously used books to learn about
World geography
The Arctic


  1. What a fun way to tie school to a great book!

  2. The Pumpkin Runner is one of my favorite books. It looks like you found a lot of great activities to go with the story, and I would like to make those biscuits with my kids in the future. I've read about a few different places and they sound good.

  3. I'm delighted you enjoyed my book with your children! Thanks so much for sharing all these great ideas and foods. There's actually a school in Alabama that has a PUMPKIN RUN DAY, instead of Halloween. They race and have lots of pumpkin-related contests. I'm going to share your blog with the librarian who's in charge. Thanks for sharing!
    Run all your races with joy!
    Marsha Diane Arnold

    1. Thank you for visiting. Your book was a real success here. I love the idea of a pumpkin run day!