Last week we finished up our study of pumpkins in my Kinderoo class. I thought I would share a few of the activities we did. I started with a google search for ideas and came across a great blog from Mrs. Nelson’s Class. The one item is borrowed from this page was their awsesome Science Pumpkin Observation Sheet.
I started the unit by having all the kids sit in a circle on the carpet and I put a pumpkin in the middle of the circle. I didn’t say much and let them start the conversion. They first started asking where it came from and we discussed where you can get pumpkins. I grow my own pumpkins so this branched into a discussion of growing pumpkins. From here we introduced the word ‘observations’ which has become our BIG word in science. I handed out the pumpkin observation sheet. Each child drew a picture of what our pumpkin looked like and made a decision as to whether they thought it was big, medium or small. On the back of our sheet we also recorded it’s weight (8 kg) and diameter (77 cm).
The next day when they came into school I had set up our ‘pumpkin patch’ in the science centre (sorry I forgot to take picture). I had gone to our best local fruit stand and purchased a wide variety of pumpkins in size, shape, colour and texture. I arranged them all on a green table cloth to constrast the colours and make it look like grass. On the science wall behind the patch I put a pumpkin patch sign along with a number of descriptive words: big, medium, small, orange, white, smooth and rough. For activity I placed a bin with a number of pumpkin observation sheets and pencils next to the pumpkin patch. Students were encouraged to visit the science centre and make their own observations on the different pumpkins present.
To go along with our pumpkin study we learned about the colour orange. We have been learning our colours and I carefully timed orange so that it would coincide with our pumpkin study. We learned our orange song and practiced it throughout the week. This was also sent home as homework at the end of the week. I also have worksheets available for interested students to reinforce the colour. Once we had learned the colour orange we also added to our observation sheet that pumpkins are orange. As an art activity I gave each child a paper plate and a drop of yellow and red plate. I asked them to paint their paint orange – a great exploration activity. Once they were all dry we added faces and made our pumpkin patch on our bulletin board in the hallway.
After thoroughly observing the outside of the pumpkins it was time to cut one open. Before cutting it open everyone made a prediction of what they thought it would look like on the inside on their observation sheet. We cut it open and recorded our observations. I made a chart with pictures of: and eye, ear, nose, mouth and hand. We used our five senses to record our observations. I took the seeds home and cleaned them and dried them out. I added to the pile the seeds I had at home from my own kids jack-o-lanterns and I also took some from my brother-in-law (who carves very cool pumpkins on Halloween). At the next class we made our pumpkin observation booklets to record our observations from the inside of the pumpkin.
I had precut the orange construction paper for them and glued in the observation sheet. Each student was given a piece of wool and a handful of seeds and asked to make a representation of the inside of the pumpkin. Then they used the observations that we made as a class and recorded one observation for each of the 5 senses (they wrote ‘no sound’ beside the ear as we didn’t hear anything).
Math: When we started this unit we had just begin our lessons on counting and number recognition in math so I wanted to keep the math lessons as simple as possible. Because of this, and the large number of seeds that can be inside a pumpkin, we didn’t do any estimation of the number of seeds in a pumpkin. Instead my teacher partner gave me the perfect activity that fit very nicely to what we are targeting in math right now.
Each bag had a number of dots that corresponded to the the number in the upper left hand box. Students were to glue pumpkin seeds on each dot and then count the number in each bag. This was a bit time consuming but a great activity. If I was to do this again I would give my more advanced students a sheet without the dots and they would have to determine the number of seeds in each bag.
Literacy: In one of our literacy centres I had large pumpkins cut out of orange construction paper and I wrote on them the first 12 Jolly Phonics letters that we have learned. Students had to pull a letter out of a bag, say the letter name and sound and match it to the corresponding letter on the pumpkin. If this was easy for them they were to say a word that started with the letter: eg – s, sss, snake.
Everything in our unit went very well – and I love it when everything integrates so nicely!