It’s pumpkin palooza this month! Love teaching with pumpkins and taking a trip to the pumpkin patch! Here are some of my favorite educational pumpkin activities:
P is for pumpkin
This is a fun, hands-on activity to practice letter recognition. Create a letter recognition pumpkin patch in your room by labeling some pumpkins with letter Ps and other pumpkins with other letters of the alphabet. Create vines (green yarn, ribbon, or pipe cleaners) and leaves and lay them on the floor along with the pumpkins to resemble a pumpkin patch. Have students go in the pumpkin patch and pick “P” pumpkins. To practice letter sounds (beginning sounds) glue pictures on the pumpkins and have students pick pumpkins with pictures that begin with p. (This activity is from our Letter P Alphabet Unit Plan),
Allow students to explore and touch the outside of a pumpkin. Ask them to describe it. Write their responses on an anchor chart or large pumpkin cut out.
(This idea was inspired by students. We had done sink or float with apples and they wanted to do it with pumpkins too). Have students predict whether a pumpkin will sink or float. Have them write their predictions in their science journals or make a graph of their predictions. Place pumpkins in a tub of water deep enough to lift the pumpkin off the bottom (they should float). Have students draw a picture and record their findings.
Place a piece of string around the middle of the pumpkin to measure it’s girth.
Cut several more pieces of string, some shorter and some longer. Lay all the pieces of string on a table or hang them up on the wall. Label each piece of string with a letter or number. Have students guess which piece of string is the correct measurement of the girth of the pumpkin.
Ask students to guess the weight of the pumpkin. Record their answers on an anchor chart or graph or have them write their predictions in their science journals. Weigh the pumpkin and compare the results. Cut out the pumpkin (see pumpkin carving idea below). Ask students to predict the weight of the pumpkin after the seeds and pulp have been removed. Record their responses. Re-weigh the pumpkin and compare the results.
After removing the pulp and seeds from the pumpkin, allow students to explore and touch the insides of the pumpkin and look at it through magnifying glasses. Ask them to describe it. Record their responses on an anchor chart or large pumpkin cut out.
Supply students with either a paper plate or a pumpkin cut-out, pieces of orange or yellow string, pumpkin seeds (real or paper), and glue. Allow them to create their own representations of the inside of a pumpkin.
Read From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer and/or It’s Pumpkin Time by Zoe Hall. Discuss the life cycle of a pumpkin. Plant some of the pumpkin seeds from your pumpkin. Have students draw the different stages of a pumpkin plant in their science journals.
Create a fun, hands-on counting center that students will be “pumped” to use! Program pumpkins with numbers. Provide a long piece of green yarn or ribbon and recording sheets (optional). Students visit the center and lay the yarn or ribbon on the floor to resemble a vine. They then take the pile of numbered pumpkin cards and lay them in sequential order along the vine and record their answers on the recording sheet. They can then shuffle them up and lay them on the vine in reverse order. Students can practice counting by ones or skip counting. (Our Pumpkin Math Center contains pumpkins, recording pages, and a pumpkin hundred chart with ideas for use.)
Pumpkin Carving Activity
This special way to carve a pumpkin is perfect for Christian schools, Sunday School classes, etc. It relates the pumpkin carving experience with Jesus.
Instead of cutting a hole in the top of the pumpkin, cut a heart shape in the back. Ask the students what shape you are carving. Explain that they should take Jesus into their heart and love him with their whole heart. The children may sing “Jesus Loves Me” or “Jesus Loves the Little Children of the World” while you are carving the heart shape.
Show the children the “yucky” looking pulp inside the heart and explain that it doesn’t make the heart look very nice. Explain that the pulp is like our “yucky” sins and we don’t feel very nice when we sin.
Clean out the pulp and the seeds from inside the heart. (Children may assist in cleaning out the pulp or you may allow them to touch and smell it as you clean it out or look at it through magnifying glasses. Ask them to describe it to you. You may also take this opportunity to talk about the pumpkin seeds & planting a pumpkin) While cleaning out the pulp explain that this is similar to Jesus taking away or forgiving our sins and making our hearts clean again.
Ask how this makes the students feel (happy). Draw a happy face on the front of the pumpkin. You may draw shapes for the eyes and nose and ask the students to name the shapes.
Cut out the happy face on the front side of the pumpkin. While you are cutting out the happy face the children may sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” or “Oh Be Careful Little Eyes What You See”.
Place a light inside the pumpkin and light up the happy face. Explain that Jesus is the light of the world and should light up their life. When you take Jesus into your heart it makes you feel happy, good, & pure. Sing “This Little Light of Mine”.
Ring Around the Pumpkin – Purchase some small pumpkins and spread them around the room or an outdoor area. Label them with numbers. Have students toss several hula-hoops to try and ring pumpkins. Have each student add their score.
Use these fun pumpkin games to help with transition times. They work great prior to bathroom time or washing up for snack.
Pumpkin Hot Potato – play like the classic Hot Potato game except pass around a small pumpkin or gourd. When a student gets caught with the pumpkin when the music stops, they go to the next activity or line up or go to the bathroom, etc.
Pin the Nose on the Pumpkin – played like the classic game Pin the Tail on the Donkey except the students try to place the nose on a jack-o-lantern.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown by Charles M. Schulz
Five Little Pumpkins by Dan Yaccarino
Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington
The Biggest Pumpkin Ever by Steven Kroll
The Berenstain Bears and the Prize Pumpkin by Stan and Jan Berenstain
The Berenstain Bears’ Harvest Festival by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White
Pumpkin Patch by Elizabeth King
It’s Pumpkin Time! by Zoe Hall
Jeb Scarecrow’s Pumpkin Patch by Jana Dillon
From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer
As part of our field trip to our local pumpkin farm the students get to pick a small pumpkin to take home. We then allow the students to paint their pumpkins during our Fall Festival.
If you are unable to get pumpkins for every child another alternative is to draw faces on several pumpkins and place them in a center with various hats, scarves, and clothing. Students can “dress up” the pumpkins.