Are you looking for a way to combine some great learning with a fun fall activity? Pumpkin math is my favorite fall and Halloween activity. The children love observing their pumpkin, measuring their pumpkin, and scooping out the seeds and counting them (well… not all students love scooping out the seeds!). Find the Pumpkin Observation and Measurement product in my Teachers Pay Teacher’s store!
Setting up for Pumpkin Math
Personally, I like to invite parents for this activity. Parents in my school are always looking for ways to come in the classroom and this is an activity that definitely benefits from extra hands. I like to do this activity in small groups so that all students can access the pumpkin – that could mean everyone is in a small group or you take one small group to do the activity and then when they are done, pull a different group.
You definitely, definitely, need table covers of some sort, because it will get messy! You should gather up unifix cubes, chain links (if you have them) and carving tools (kept away from the children of course!). And you will want the recording book. I like to make it into a book, which means you can take out a section you don’t want to do (like maybe the chain links if you don’t have them).
Before you begin, have everyone roll up their sleeves and take off any white sweaters… have I mentioned it’s going to get messy?
Observing the Pumpkin First
Before students start to measure the pumpkin, they should observe it first! Students should draw and/or write about what the pumpkin looks like, what it feels like, and what the stem feels like. Then, after they have measured the outside and are cutting open the pumpkin, have students observe the inside of the pumpkin – what does it look like? What does it feel like?
Pumpkin Math: Counting
Students will start the pumpkin math activity by first measuring the outside of the pumpkin. They will use unifix cubes to see how tall the pumpkin is and how tall the stem is. They will count the number of lines around the pumpkin and they will measure around the pumpkin with a chain link. I use a chain link and unifix cubes, because it is a kindergarten standard to use non-standard units of measurement.
Let the Mess Begin!
The adults will then carve the pumpkin so that the children can scoop out the seeds. Obviously, be very careful with the carving tools around the children. Let the children explore with the goop and the seeds – some students will love it and some will hate the feeling!
Children should draw and/or write about what the inside of the pumpkin looks like and what it feels like. Have students help to pull out the seeds from the inside goop.
Pumpkin Math: Counting
The pumpkin math continues by having students count the seeds. Once students have the seeds out, see if they can count how many seeds are inside their pumpkin. It is around this time that I encourage volunteers to talk about how it is difficult to count so many seeds and keep track of the ones you have already counted. So I suggest that parents have the students each make groups of ten. This helps count easier, helps reinforce a strategy for keeping track of what you are counting, and gives each child something to do. After some time or after all the seeds have been counted (depending on the size of the pumpkin), figure out the total number and record it in the book.
This is a great activity to do around Halloween and really doesn’t need much to extend it to a Halloween activity. All you have to do is add a final step – carve the pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern as a group!
Your students will love exploring with pumpkins. Students will be so excited to observe and measure the outside AND the inside of the pumpkin. Have you ever tried this with your students? What tips and tricks would you add?