Lesson plan

Pumpkin Math and Science

Looking closely at pumpkins is a good way to incorporate math, specifically estimation and counting. This lesson can be messy and requires some clean up, but kids love it!
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  • Students will be able to measure the height and circumference of different pumpkins.
  • Students will be able to talk about the ways pumpkins are the same and different (height, circumference, color, shape, etc).
  • Students will be able to count pumpkin seeds and group them by tens.
  • Students will be able to estimate how many seeds are in a pumpkin and compare their estimates to the actual results.
(10 minutes)
  • Display a pumpkin and ask students to tell you what’s inside (seeds). Ask students if they can estimate, or guess, how many seeds there are. Write their guesses on chart paper.
  • Read How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamera
(15 minutes)
  • Have students sit in a circle around a table or on the rug.
  • Estimate the circumference of a pumpkin. Show students the yarn/string and ask them how long you should cut the string to match the pumpkin's circumference.
  • Then, actually measure the pumpkin with another string and compare the two. Was your estimate “too short”, “just right” or "too long”?
  • Use a tape measure or unifix cubes to record the actual circumference.
  • Measure the height of a pumpkin by stacking unifix cubes to match the pumpkin’s height.
  • Ask students how many lines do they think are around the pumpkin. Then using a marker to mark your first line, count the lines together.
  • Ask students to think about and predict how many seeds there will be inside, then cut it open and model how to separate the pulp and seeds out on the newspaper. You will then want to put the pulp in one pile on the newspaper or in a bowl. The seeds in another pile and then model how to separate the seeds.
  • Ask students what might be a faster way to count seeds. Hopefully students will say by tens. Then model how to count 10 seeds on the newspaper and then circle it with a marker. Then start counting your next 10.
  • Stop after 20 or 30 seeds to send students off to do their own pumpkin at a table group.
(5 minutes)
  • Ask students to go back to newspaper lined tables (with one pumpkin on each table) to observe and look at their pumpkin.
  • Have students break into groups with different family members at each table according to how many adults and pumpkins you have in your classroom.
  • Ask them to look at their pumpkin quietly and give them some time to think and discuss with their group about their pumpkin. What do they think the circumference will be? How many lines will there be?, etc.
(25 minutes)
  • Have students work with their adult to do the same steps you modeled whole class: Circumference with string, counting lines, estimating and counting seeds. Students should record their answers.

Support: Students who need help with counting can count seeds with a partner or have a family member help them count.

Enrichment: Challenge advanced students to put their groups of ten together by counting by twos or fives.

(5 minutes)
  • Have each student record their findings/results on a piece of paper while they are working on their pumpkin.
(10 minutes)
  • Have students bring their results to a closing circle.
  • Have students share out their results and record them on a chart paper.
  • Compare and contrast the results. Were students surprised by their results? Why or why not?
  • Ask students if their predictions/estimates were close? Why or why not?
  • If time allows, graph their results.

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