Pumpkin Week is one of my favorite weeks in October! Teaching thematically and immersing my students in this topic helps increase motivation and student mastery of skills, while allowing me to hit multiple content areas and standards. Plus, these pumpkin investigation activities are just plain FUN! The kids love Pumpkin Week!
Some years, we will complete our pumpkin investigations before Halloween. Other years (read… when we run out of time), we complete them just before Thanksgiving. That’s the beauty of pumpkin season… It really lasts all fall long!
PUMPKIN INVESTIGATION ACTIVITIES
Normally, I’ll have my students rotate through several different pumpkin science stations. However, these activities can still be completed while social distancing!
In fact, just last year, we completed each of these pumpkin activities whole group. I brought in one pumpkin that we examined as a class. The pumpkin was kept at the front of the class, so that the students could easily observe each activity. Each day, we completed one or two pages in our interactive pumpkin shaped book. When the week was complete, we had a handy-dandy book “All About Pumpkins!”
MATH PUMPKIN INVESTIGATION ACTIVITIES
It’s so easy to integrate math into your pumpkin investigation activities. First, I have my students estimate the weight, height and circumference of a pumpkin.
It’s interesting to listen to their guesses for the weight. Many will estimate extremely high numbers. Usually, I’ll pass the pumpkin around the circle, but you may need to skip that step if your school is social distancing.
We use linking cubes to measure the height, since these are a math tool that is quite familiar.
For the circumference, we use chain links. In the past, I have always used yarn… but let me tell you, the chain links are a total game changer!
Then, I cut the pumpkin open so that we can feel the inside and see the seeds. We estimate how many seeds we think may be inside the pumpkin. I dry these seeds for later. Then, we place them on our “Seed Scooper” hundreds charts to help us count how many seeds.
LITERACY PUMPKIN INVESTIGATION ACTIVITIES
We also incorporate our pumpkin investigation activities into reading and writing. While examining the outside and inside of our pumpkin, we label each of the pumpkin parts. Tip: It’s easier to see the parts on the inside of the cavity if you cut the pumpkin completely in half.
As part of our whole group reading block, we mix and fix these pocket chart sentences. These sentences are a little more challenging, because the students need to arrange them in the correct order of the pumpkin life cycle. Of course, we practice tracking the words 1:1, as well as recognizing the words from the word wall. Then, I’ll add these sentences to our pocket chart center for the students to build independently.
These same sentences can be found in our weekly emergent reader. Each day, we read the story and focus on a different skill. For the first couple of days, we’ll focus on our new word wall word “a.” We’ll locate this word on each page, as well as practice the correct pronunciation of the word. Then, we’ll find our other word wall words and brainstorm a list of adjectives to describe a pumpkin. The students will need to write their own adjective on the last page of the emergent reader. This chart is nothing fancy. It’s just a pumpkin I drew with an orange marker. At the top of the chart, I write the words “It is…” On the inside of pumpkin, I write the adjectives the students share with me.
SCIENCE PUMPKIN INVESTIGATION ACTIVITIES
Our pumpkin life cycle book and pocket chart sentences are a good segue into learning about the life cycle of a pumpkin. I also like to read From Seed to Pumpkin and Pumpkin, Pumpkin while we are creating our life cycle anchor chart. Once we’ve completed the anchor chart, the students work on the life cycle page for their interactive shape book.
One of my most favorite pumpkin investigation activities to complete is determining whether a pumpkin will sink or float. Of course, most students think it will sink because it is so big and heavy. They are often quite surprised to see that the pumpkin floats. We talk about how the pumpkin is hollow and filled with air like a beach ball. The air helps the pumpkin float in the water, just like the air helps a beach ball float in the pool.
SOCIAL STUDIES PUMPKIN INVESTIGATION ACTIVITIES
Of course, we can’t forget about social studies while we are learning about pumpkins. To cover this content area, I display a map of the world. I point to each continent and ask the students if they think a pumpkin could grow there and why. Most students are able to tell me that pumpkins will not grow in the North Pole because it’s too cold there. There are also a few who say that they can’t grow in Antarctica because that’s where penguins live.
Once they’ve made their guesses, I show them a world map with a pumpkin on each continent where pumpkins do grow. For this page in the book, the students will color the map and glue a pumpkin on each continent. This lesson is also a great way to tie in what a pumpkin plant needs to grow.
Another social studies topic we tie in is the marketplace. We discuss the items that use pumpkins and do not use pumpkins with a simple pocket chart sort.
PUMPKIN PIE SNACK
We end our week with a yummy cup full of pumpkin pie! Once we’ve followed the recipe and sampled our pumpkin pie, we survey eight friends to get their opinion on whether they like a cup full of pumpkin pie. Then, we analyze and graph our results.
I promise this is a super easy, no-bake pumpkin pie! All you need are three ingredients, unless you want to get fancy and add some whipped cream to the top! Find the full recipe here.
On Friday, we will finish cutting out the pages and cover for our “All About Pumpkins” book. You can take a closer look at all of the pages in the video below.
DON’T FORGET IT… PIN IT!