Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

My 8th graders are currently learning about symmetry in school.  We use the CMP curriculum and we are currently focused on learning three types of symmetry: reflection, rotation, and translation.  I have been having a fun time with this unit because of all the hands-on investigations you can use to help students get a good feel for working with symmetry.

For example, I found this sweet demonstration on the Geometer's Sketchpad website where you can actually create a Kaleidoscope and then animate it for kids to see.  You can evaluate things such as rotational symmetry and degree of rotation.  However, seeing as how me and technology tend to not get a long so well, I was nervous about this demonstration.

And, of course, I made a little mistake when implementing it during the first class.  I accidentally got rid of the three points I would later need in order to animate the dang kaleidoscope.  They were still about to talk about symmetry and angle of rotation, the most important aspects, but they didn't get the "cool factor" or seeing the kaleidoscope in action.  For the second class, I was able to fix it.  And, when I animated the kaleidoscope, it was super fun to watch their faces.  They were AMAZED.  It was pretty great to see.  I love that I was able to make them excited about the topic and show them something that they had never seen before.  

I was able to find this activity online because of a Technology course that I am currently taking at school.  We spend a lot of time investigating math problems through various activities involving technology such as graphing calculators, Geometer's Sketchpad, and other tools.  For this class, I actually have math homework again!  However, it is so fun and I get to find ideas of how to teach different mathematical concepts while using technology.  I was working on some of this homework with my fellow math student teacher, Emily, and, of course, we had to make something fantastic for dinner to help us learn.  I had been wanting to try out some Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese for a while and the thought of eating some fall comfort food while curled up working on homework was just too appealing to pass up.  We whipped up a batch of Pumpkin Mac and Cheese adapted from a recipe I found from Rachel Ray and got to work on our homework.  

Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese

16 oz whole wheat macaroni noodles
4 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp flour
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
2 tbsp low-sugar maple syrup
2 cups skim milk
couple dashes of ground cloves
couple dashes of pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp ground mustard
couple dashes of red pepper flakes
nutmeg, salt and pepper
1 15 oz can pumpkin puree
2 cups low-fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
paprika for topping

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Cook the pasta according to directions until al dente, drain and set aside.
3. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and then whisk in the flour.  Whisk for about a minute.  Increase the heat a little and add in the chicken stock.  Lower the heat and continue to whisk until the stock is almost evaporated, about 4-5 minutes.  Then, whisk in the syrup and milk.  Season with the cloves, pumpkin pie spice, mustard, and red pepper flakes.  Adjust to your taste preferences and season with nutmeg, salt, and pepper.  Let cook, whisking occasionally, until mixture thickens, about 8 minutes.  You should be able to coat a spoon.  Mix in the the pumpkin puree and then the shredded cheese until cheese is totally melted.  
4.  Toss the pasta with the cheese sauce and then pour into a casserole dish.  I used a 13 by 9 inch baking dish.  Sprinkle the top with paprika and bake for about 10 minutes or until cheese is bubbling.  

Enjoy :)


  1. I would have never thought of adding pumpkin to mac and cheese! Good idea though. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Looks delicious and very weather appropriate too. Thanks for sharing.

  3. My mac and cheese recipe is so very perfect I get scared to do anything to it--but pumpkin might be the compromise. This looks great!

  4. The pumpkin mac and cheese sounds great, but I'm really interested in the kaleidoscope. I'm going to have to check it out. Wondering if I could work it into my 9th grade curriculum somehow? Thanks for sharing on Foodie Friends Friday.

    1. I bet it could work. It would be great if all the kids could create their own! I just didn't have access to the computer lab

  5. What a wonderful fall take on Mac and Cheese! Thanks for linking this up at Foodie Friends Friday! :)

  6. Brilliant! I can't wait to try this. Looks fabulous.