Think of the weirdest looking gourd you've ever seen. What do you think would be a good name for that gourd? Why?
Why do you think people are willing to pay so much for weird-looking gourds?
As the article points out, the commodification of autumn has churned out everything from Starbucks lattes and flavored Twinkies to "fall-scented" kitty litter. What fall-themed items have you seen on the shelves? Which one is your favorite? Why?
According to the article, ugly produce makes up to 40 percent of food waste in some countries. The ugly gourds featured in this article are raised to be decorative items, not food. So would you say these gourds are really having a "culinary moment," or do you think they add to the food waste problem?
- As a class, brainstorm a list of traditions associated with the fall season. As students contribute items to the list, encourage them to share what they know about each one.
- Instruct students to select one tradition. Give them time to conduct research to learn more about it. Encourage students to find out how the tradition began and where, when, why and how it is observed. Challenge them to uncover ways the tradition has changed over time.
- Have students create an advertisement about the fall tradition they investigated. Encourage students to brainstorm ideas for a slogan that will entice people to observe their tradition.
CUSTOMIZE THE LESSON:
Invite students to watch this video from the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in which Public Programs Coordinator Gloria Kenyon demonstrates how to make fall wreaths.
Decorative gourds may be all the rage, but pumpkin is still king when it comes to fall squash. Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn how to think outside the piecrust and explore other ways to put pumpkin on your table.
Every year on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month, when the moon is at its roundest, Chinese families gather to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festivities. Invite students to watch this animation from the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage to learn more about this fall tradition.
The Smithsonian Butterfly Habitat Garden at the National Museum of Natural History is home to a variety of plants, insects and butterflies. Invite students to watch this video in which Jonathan Kavalier, Smithsonian Gardens horticulturist, shares some important facts of butterfly gardening and provides viewers with several fall gardening tips.
Whenever autumn arrives, whether in a blaze of brilliant leaves or with subtle changes in the life cycles of flora and fauna, the season holds a special beauty. Invite students to explore this Smithsonian site to see how natural-science illustrations combine art and science in the close observation of nature and how artwork from around the world and across time can capture the mood, color and light of the fall season.
All across the country, birds are making the trek south for the winter. Read this Smithsonian magazine article to learn where some of the best places to witness their journey are located.