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Pumpkin, Pumpkin
by Judy Christiansen

A perfect way to introduce these pumpkin activities is by reading Jeanne Titherington’s book Pumpkin, Pumpkin. This book leads into many science and math activities as students enjoy hands-on experiences with a class pumpkin. How many ridges does the pumpkin have? How much does it weigh? How long did it take to grow? Will the seeds inside grow another pumpkin?

Pumpkin Belts: (estimation, seriation, measuring)

  • Have each student estimate the circumference of the class pumpkin by cutting a piece of string or yarn the length of his/her estimate.
  • Each student checks his/her "belt" with the pumpkin’s circumference and places it on a graph with the following labels: "too short," "just right," and "too long."
  • Ask students to seriate the belts in each of the graph’s sections from shortest to longest.
  • If desired, students can use a measuring tool or non-standard measuring manipulative to determine the difference between the longest and shortest "belt" in each group.
  • Measure and record the actual circumference in both standard and non-standard measurements. Write the results on a cutout pumpkin to display by the "belts" graph.
  • A group interpretation of the data or summary of the activity could be written and displayed for student and visitor re-reading.


How Many Seeds Are There?: (place value counting)

  • As you are cutting into the pumpkin discuss the possible number of seeds it may contain. Record predictions and determine the "range" of student predictions. (Take this opportunity to review the life cycle of the pumpkin and point out the relationship between the flower and the pumpkin fruit they now see.)
  • Once the top has been removed, students will enjoy the messy fun of feeling the pulp and seeds as they help to clean out the pumpkin. Direct students to separate the seeds from the pulp.
  • Provide each group with portion cups and some seeds. Students should count by groups of ten and place each group in a portion cup. (The excitement in each group as they realize how close they are to reaching 100 or more is fantastic!)
  • Place a large sheet of butcher paper on a table. Divide into three sections and label: hundreds, tens, ones.
  • Have each group place their portion cups in the tens’ column and any leftover seeds in the ones column.
  • Regroup the ones’ column first, if possible.
  • Counting by tens, regroup the portion cups into a larger container (called the hundreds cup) and place in the hundreds’ column.
  • Record the number of seeds on the paper. (Our last year’s pumpkin yielded over 300 seeds!)
  • Compare the actual number of seeds with their predictions.


Crunch, Crunch … Enjoy Those Seeds!:

  • Save and clean the seeds.
  • Mix with a small amount of cooking oil and place on a cookie sheet.
  • Roast in the oven at 250 degrees F. for 15 minutes.
  • Stir. Cook slightly longer until a golden brown.
  • Place on paper towels to absorb excess oil.
  • Enjoy!