How to Turn Pumpkins into Math

autumn-2905_640Math can be kind of boring, if we’re honest with ourselves. There are formulas, strategies, and all of those facts to memorize. Which is why using pumpkins is way cool.

1. Make a plan

Figure out what you want to teach with these pumpkins. And it can be literally ANYTHING: art, science, math, reading, writing, whatever. You can make connections to literally any subject with a pumpkin.

I liked to teach math and science with pumpkins. Since I taught fourth grade, we were getting into volume, mass, and complex multiplication. But you can do whatever works for your age level.

Math: addition/subtraction (visual representations), multiplication/division (arrays or groups), geometry (pictures out of pumpkin seeds), word problems (use your imagination!), fractions (visual representations or comparisons)

Science: properties (color, shape, size, texture, smell, etc), weight/mass (scales), volume (displacement), float/sink (properties of matter), thickness of the rind, plant science (plant the seeds, dissect the seeds)

Reading: read a book and discuss, use the list found on Scholastic.com.

Art/Music: make a mosaic or sculpture or picture using pumpkin parts, use the hollowed out rind as a drum

Cooking/Home Ec: actually make a pumpkin pie from real pumpkins, from scratch

2. Get the pumpkins

We always assigned pumpkins as homework, so that students would bring a pumpkin to school on the appointed day. But you could also make this a community outreach project and ask a local farm or pumpkin stand to donate pumpkins to your class or school.

3. Get volunteers

pumpkin-230865_640This really only applies if you are doing this at school or with a large-ish group of kids. If this is you, please enlist other parents or older teens to help you! Your sanity will thank you later!

4. Pumpkin day!

If you are doing this in a large space, set up stations. If you are doing this with just a few kids or in a small space, set up a schedule. For stations, have one or two adults available to guide students through the activity.

For weighing and measuring activities, you will need accurate scales and US system tape measures or fabric rulers. To test if your pumpkin floats or sinks, use a filled bathtub or large water tight container.

You will be cutting into these pumpkins, so be sure that you have sharp knives and adults on hand to supervise and assist, especially with young children. To scoop out the seeds, you will need hands, ice cream scoops, pumpkin carving kits, and whatever else you think could be used in this manner. It would be wise to cover all work surfaces with newspaper or large garbage bags; this is a messy activity. You should also have garbage bags for the slimy insides, but not the seeds.

5. Have fun

autumn-218804_640This is a seriously FUN activity. My kids talk about it all year, and it is a huge deal to the rising fourth graders at the beginning of each school year.

At the end of the activity, I let my students create a simple design (2 eyes, a nose, a mouth) and carve the pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern. They LOVE that we do this in school, but it would be equally fun at home. Plus, if you sign up for my VIP list, I will send you a FREE copy of my Parent-Teacher Conference Cheat Sheet and a copy of the Pumpkin Math worksheet. And you’ll get cool, teacher created freebies at least monthly throughout the school year!

Let me know if you do this activity, and what you think. I hope you join the e-mail list, and access the FREE worksheet, too!

~Meg

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