Pumpkins in the classroom – I’m not sure if anything could sound more exciting than that! I love all things seasonal, and, of course, any opportunity to integrate math, science, and creative learning. Luckily, the pumpkin investigation I’m sharing with you today has all three.
To start our pumpkin unit, our class creates a Jack O’ Lantern. Together we vote on the shape we want for the eyes, nose and mouth. We use tally marks to count up the votes – a great way to review counting by 5’s! Then, pumpkin carving begins.
I love how this Jack ‘O Lantern decorates our class for several weeks!
Afterwards, we scoop out all the seeds. Great for those kinesthetic learners — sticking hands in squishy stuff is always fun. I have the class guess how many seeds are in our pumpkin before counting them, sharpening those estimation skills.
After this, I wash the seeds and dry them, so it might be the next day or after a recess period that we get to this next step — counting the seeds! Students work alone or in pairs to create groups of ten. We count by tens as a class, until we know how many seeds in our pumpkin. Special congrats to whichever student had the closest estimate.
Next up is another overnight prep (or if you’ve got a handy TA or mounds of extra time, lucky you, this can be done in between classes) to get the seeds ready for tasting as part of the next activity: “The Case of the Pumpkin Patch”.
I created this when teaching Kinder, but it could easily be updated for any elementary classroom. First, I create pumpkin field notebooks for each student. The pumpkin notebook comes from my favorite place — the Target $1 Spot — and the pages can be purchased here, in my store.
Students should think of themselves as detectives, or investigators collecting data on their individual pumpkins. I love how much some students get into imaginative role play!
- Pumpkin Field Notebooks (Target Dollar Spot and The Teaching Texan TpT Store)
- Mini Pumpkins (one for each student, or have students work in pairs to cut costs!)
- String (for measuring)
- Art Supplies for decorating pumpkins (paint, google eyes, feathers, what-have-you)
Each page of the notebook asks for additional information about the student’s pumpkin. These range from measurements to graphs to predictions to personal opinion, when students are asked to try different flavors of pumpkin seeds and record their reactions.
This activity is a multi-step process that can be done over a few days, or over a long class period. It also works with students at separate centers/stations, or with students working independently, in pairs, or in larger groups, depending on your classroom needs. Additionally, the supplies listed above are flexible and can be amended or changed to fit your budget, class size, or any other constraints.
However you amend it to your classroom, the basic idea is this: every student gets their own mini-pumpkin to investigate. Each page of the field journal asks for a new piece of information about the pumpkin and provides a place to record it. Students have a great take-home at the end of the unit, as well as a fun, seasonal art piece.
I highly recommend saving the pumpkin decorating for very last, as feathers, glitter, and google eyes have a habit of littering the floor if students decorate too early.
Aren’t they so cute all decorated? Early finishers have extra time to decorate their pumpkins and can color their field journals as well. You can keep these in your classroom on a shelf or windowsill until the end of the month too if you want, then send them home as a gift on Halloween!
What about you? How do you incorporate fall into your learning units? What are you favorite ways to enjoy the season in your classroom? You can grab your own copy of this Pumpkin Investigation Unit by clicking the picture below!