The Runaway Pumpkin by Kevin Lewis - Teaching Ideas

The Baxter Boys find a huge pumpkin that they decide they need to have. Once they cut it off the vine though, things start to go very wrong! The pumpkin starts to roll out of control and heads straight for the Baxter farm. It crashes through the pig sty, knocks Grampa Baxter for a loop and finally ends up resting in the the bed that Poppa plows for it. Once the pumpkin comes to a stop the family gets excited about the possible food that Granny can make from such a huge pumpkin. As a family they get the pumpkin in the house and Granny gets to work. Come dinner time she places all sorts of food on the table and sets up the giant jack-o-lantern she has made. Hmm, if Granny made a jack-o-lantern out of the giant pumpkin, how did she get all that delicious pumpkin food on the table?

Just one of the great questions to ask your students to get them thinking deeper.

Below are more skills and strategies and ideas to keep this book a meaningful teaching tool for the whole month of October.

I have created a Visualizing Freebie for you for something fun to do along with all the other activities you can create from the info below.

Reading level: 2.6
Theme/subject: Halloween fun, humorous
Genre: holiday, Halloween

Suggested Vocabulary/phrases: eyes a-gleam, foresaw, mucking, plowed,

Reading skills and strategies:
  • Asking questions - {possible questions before} I wonder what the story is going to be about. I wonder how the pumpkin ran away. I wonder if it will stop. {possible questions during} I wonder if the Baxter boys will get into trouble. I wonder what Granny will make with all that pumpkin.  {possible questions after} I wonder if Granny cooked any of the pumpkin.   **Remember to have your students answer/reflect their questions.
  • Author's point of view – Third. Be sure to find 3 pieces of evidence to support this (the Baxter boys, his, and him).
  • Author's purpose – entertain {evidence} the author writes the story in rhyme and uses repetition to make it fun to read. The illustrator’s pictures are silly. When the family was trying to bring the pumpkin in the house they were trying to stretch the door frame so it could fit inside. All of these things make a very entertaining story.
  • Beginning, middle, and end - {most important event from beginning} The Baxter boys found a pumpkin and cut it loose. {most important event from middle} The pumpkin rolled down the hill crashing into everything in its path. {most important event from end} Granny turned the large pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern.
  • Cause and effect – Why did the pumpkin start to roll down the hill? Because the Baxter boys cut it loose. Why did little Lil foresee disaster? Because she looked down the hill and saw what the pumpkin was going to bump into. Why did Poppa Baxter plow a pumpkin bed? So he could stop the pumpkin. OR because he used his head.  Why did little Lil pull Granny through the crowd? So she could see the big pumpkin. Why did the Baxters have to stretch the door frame to get the pumpkin inside? Because the pumpkin was too big to fit if they didn’t. Why were all the Baxter’s dressed up at dinner? Because it was Halloween.
  • Classify & categorize – pumpkins: parts of a pumpkin and foods you can make using pumpkins
  • Compare & contrast – pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns
  • Connections - {possible text-to-self connections} Being excited for a super huge pumpkin. Having a pumpkin be too big or heavy for you to carry or control. Carving your own jack-o-lantern. Liking pumpkin pie, soup, or bread.  {possible text-to-text connections} Connect this book with Little Mouse and the Big Red Apple by A.H. Benjamin. Both books have a big “something” that runs or rolls away.
  • Drawing conclusions & inference – If Granny used the pumpkin to make all the food the family was thinking about why is there a huge jack-o-lantern sitting in the room with them. {text clues} The jack-o-lantern had a twinkle in its eye. It was a HUGE pumpkin. {what I know} When I carve a pumpkin there are pieces of pumpkin that I usually throw away. {my conclusion} I think the pumpkin was so big that she just used the pieces she carved out of it to make the jack-o-lantern for the food she made for dinner.
  • Fact & opinion – do facts and opinions about pumpkins instead of the story. {Facts} full grown pumpkins are orange. Small pumpkins on the vine start green. Pumpkins grow on vines. Pumpkin blossoms are yellow. {Opinions} pumpkin pie is delicious. The pumpkin guts are gross. Pumpkin seeds are fun to clean and cook. Tall skinny pumpkins are the best for making jack-o-lanterns.
  • Main idea & details - {main idea} the story is mostly about a pumpkin that rolls away and crashes through the family farm. {details} The Baxter boys cut the pumpkin from the vine and watch it start to roll away. The pumpkin crashes through the pig sty. The pumpkin knocked Grampa Baxter for a loop. The pumpkin stops in the pumpkin bed Poppa Baxter plowed.
  • Plot - the turning point or climax in the story was when Poppa Baxter quick used his head and plowed a pumpkin bed.
  • Predict – What do you think the story is going to be about. What kind of disaster do you think little Lil is foreseeing? Where do you think the pumpkin will finally come to a stop? What do you think Granny is going to do with the pumpkin?
  • Problem & solution - {problem} There is a roll away pumpkin crashing through the farm.{solution} Poppa uses his head real quick and plows a pumpkin bed for the pumpkin to stop in.
  • Sequencing – The Baxter kids climb a hill and find a huge pumpkin. The Baxter boys cut it from the vine. The pumpkin gets away from the boys. It crashes through the pig sty. It knocks Grampa Baxter for a loop. Poppa sees the pumpkin coming and plows a pumpkin bed. Little Lil brings Granny to see the pumpkin. Everyone gets the pumpkin into the house so Granny can cook lots of pumpkin food. Everyone sits down for Halloween dinner. There is a huge jack-o-lantern twinkling his eye at Granny.
  • Story elements - list title, author, characters, setting, beginning, middle, end, or problem & solution.
  • Strong thought – The Baxter boys caused a lot of damage on the farm and were very proud of the pumpkin as it lay in the pumpkin bed that Poppa plowed for it. If you were the boys’ parents what would you say to them?
  • Summarize - {someone} The Baxter boys {wanted} wanted the pumpkin {so} so they cut it off the vine {then} then it started rolling down the hill and crashing into everything in its path. {finally} Finally Poppa got it to stop.
  • Theme – ­Things might not always be used for what you think.
  • Visualize – What will your jack-o-lantern look like?

You can pick this FREEBIE up in my TpT store.

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Happy planning!


  1. Thank you so much for the fantastic freebie and book review!

    Love to Learn

  2. Wow! You have put so much thought into lessons that would pair wonderfully with this book and it helped me so much! Thank you!!


Thoughts and comments are always welcome!