Dad and Jackson Roast Pumpkin Seeds
Reading Comprehension Activity

Jackson and his dad spend time together as Jackson’s dad teaches him how to make homemade roasted pumpkin seeds.

Topic(s): Realistic Fiction. Skill(s): Character Traits, Context Clues. Genre(s): Prose

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“This is the very best part of carving pumpkins!” Jackson said. He was at the kitchen sink with Dad. They both had their hands in bowls of pumpkin seeds and were trying to seperate the squishy orange pulp from the pale white seeds. 

“I’m not sure I agree with that,” Dad said as he turned the water on to rinse the seeds in his bowl. 

“Why not? What could be better than this? It’s like having your hands in slime!” Jackson said as he squeezed a handful of seeds in his hand and watched the pulp squeeze through his closed fist.

“The very best part is eating the seeds!” Dad said. “Give me your colander and I will rinse those seeds.”

“Colander? What is a colander?” Jackson asked.

“That’s what these bowls are called. They have holes in them to let the water run through. Give me your seeds and I will rinse them. You take my clean seeds and pour them onto the dish towel so they can start drying.”

Jackson and Dad switched bowls and Jackson carefully tipped the colander of wet seeds onto a dish towel that was stretched across the counter near the sink. “How do you know how to do this? Did you look it up on YouTube?” Jackson asked.

Dad laughed and shook his head. “No. I didn’t look it up on YouTube. Me and your Grandpa used to do this together. Right here at this same sink!”

“No way!” Jackson said in surprise.

“Yes way!” Dad said as he rinsed the seeds. “We grew the pumpkins in our garden by the barn, just the same way we do now. And after we carved the pumpkins, we saved the seeds and washed them just like this. Maybe someday you will be standing here and washing pumpkin seeds with your son.”

“That’s kind of creepy, Dad,” Jackson said.

Dad laughed again. “Well, someday it won’t be. But right now, let’s get these pumpkin seeds spread out on the dish towel so they can dry.”

The next day, Dad and Jackson were back in the kitchen and the sunflower seeds were dry. Dad placed two large cookie sheets and a large mixing bowl on the table. “You know what I just realized? This mixing bowl used to belong to Grandma. So, this is the same bowl that me and Grandpa used to use too.” Dad pulled a measuring cup with melted butter in it out of the microwave. 

“I bet you miss your parents a lot, huh?” Carter said as he watched Dad bring the butter back to the table.

“Yes. I do. Whenever someone you love dies, you always miss them. But you also have lots of good memories to remember and those make you happy,” Dad said as he poured the butter into the bowl. 

Jackson picked up the salt that Dad had measured into a small bowl. “Can I dump the salt in?”

“Of course!” Dad replied. “And I will add the olive oil.” Dad used the same measuring cup that the butter was in and poured some olive oil into it. He then dumped the oil into the mixing bowl. “Grab a spoon and stir all of this,” Dad told Jackson as he placed the measuring cup into the kitchen sink.

Jackson stirred the mixture with a big spoon that Mom always kept in the top drawer. “What do we do now?” he asked.

Dad turned the oven on and then returned to the table. “Now, all we have to do is put all of the seeds in the bowl and mix them up until they are all covered with the oil, butter, and salt mixture. Then we can put the seeds on the cookie sheets and then put them in the oven. You stir as I dump the seeds into the bowl.”

Jackson stirred as Dad dumped and soon all of the seeds were wet with the oil, salt, and butter mixture. Dad poured them onto the two cookie sheets and spread them out. “You have to make sure they’re in a single layer and not stacked on top of each other or they won’t cook well,” Dad said. 

Jackson spread the seeds out with his finger tips. “How long do they have to cook?” he asked.

“About 30 minutes or so. I will stir them a couple of times while they cook. We just have to keep an eye on them and take them out of the oven when they turn a nice golden brown color,” Dad said as he placed both of the cookie sheets into the oven and closed the oven door.

“I can’t wait!” Jackson said. “I love roasted pumpkin seeds!”

“Me too!” Dad put his arm around Jackson and gave him a quick hug.

“I just realized something too, Dad,” Jackson said.

“What?” Dad asked as he wiped the kitchen table with a wet sponge.

“We are making happy memories right now, aren’t we?” Jackson said with a smile.

“We sure are, son. We sure are. Now, let’s clean this kitchen before Mom sees the mess we made!” Dad said. “If we don’t, our memory might not be so happy!” he added with a laugh.

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