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This unit study includes lessons and printables based on the book When the Frost is on the Punkin, illustrated by Glenna Lang. It was originally a poem published by James Whitcomb Riley.

When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,
And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens,
And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it’s then’s the times a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,
With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.

from “When the Frost is on the Punkin” by James Whitcomb Riley

When the Frost is on the Punkin Unit Study Lessons

Here are some sample lessons from the When the Frost is on the Punkin unit study.

Social Studies Geography: Indiana
Riley was from Indiana and is known as “The Hoosier Poet.” Indiana was the 19th state to enter the union becoming a state on December 11, 1816. The capital and biggest city is Indianapolis where the Indy 500 race is held each year. Some of the major industry in Indiana includes agriculture (which is noted in Riley’s poem). Indiana produces corn, soybeans, apples, tomatoes, and snap beans; Indiana is a great place to grow other crops as well (including plenty of pumpkins!). 

Language Arts: Dialect
James Whitcomb Riley loved to use dialect in his poems. He wrote in the way that people spoke (Midwestern dialect in the late 1800s). This is obvious when you read this poem to your students. Even the title hints at his use of dialect (using punkin instead of pumpkin). Did your student notice the misspelling? Explain that Riley does this in order to appeal to the people reading it. His poetry is for the common man, for all of us. What other words in this poem are misspelled? If you re-wrote the poem, making sure it was correct English and using formal grammar, what would the poem lose?

Here is a portion translated: “There is something hearty about the atmosphere when the summer heat is over and the cool fall is here.”

Wow! The poem loses flair, its county/relaxed style, and it loses its meter, too. Poems don’t have to follow the rules of conventional grammar (and many times they are best when they don’t); however, the poet should know why he has chosen to stray from the standardized rules.

Language Arts: Poetry- Rhyme Scheme
Print out a copy of this poem and label the rhyme scheme with your child. Rhyme scheme is the sequence in which the rhyme occurs. The first end sound is represented as the letter “a”, the second is “b”, etc. Continue using as many letters (c,d,e,f, etc.) as you need for different end sounds.

If your student is interested in poetry, check out our Poetry Tea Time ideas.

You can grab a copy of the entire When the Frost is on the Punkin Unit Study and Lapbook in an easy-to-print file at the end of this post.

When the Frost is on the Punkin Lapbook Printables

In addition to the unit study lessons, the file also includes these mini-books for your student to create a When the Frost is on the Punkin Lapbook.

  • Fall Colors Activity Page
  • What’s Growing in Indiana? Fan Book
  • Rhyme Scheme Simple Fold Book
  • Decomposition Clipboards Mini-book
  • Dialect Mini-book
  • Life Cycle of the Pumpkin Cards and Pocketbook
  • My Fall Poem Pocket
  • James Whitcomb Riley Matchbook
  • My Favorite Riley Poem Matchbook
  • And more!

How to Get Started with Your When the Frost is on the Punkin Unit Study & Lapbook

Follow these simple instructions to get started with the When the Frost is on the Punkin Unit Study:

  1. Buy a copy of the book, When the Frost is on the Punkin, or borrow one from your local library.
  2. Print the When the Frost is on the Punkin unit study.
  3. Choose the lessons you want to use with your student (a highlighter works great for this).
  4. Choose and prepare the lapbook printables you want to use with your student.
  5. Enjoy a week of poetry and pumpkins!

Get Your When the Frost is on the Punkin Unit Study & Lapbook

Simply click on the image below to access your free When the Frost is on the Punkin Unit Study and Lapbook.

When the Frost Is on the Punkin
Unit Study and Lapbook

More Fall Related Resources

The Apple Pie Tree Lapbook
Leaves Unit Study & Printables
Pumpkin Jack Unit Study