Here is a cute yet educational project that is perfect for the season and teaches students about the plant life cycle. It starts with the seed, then the leaf, the flower…until you have an unripe pumpkin and a ripe pumpkin. You can write the numbers of the steps to help students put the life cycle steps in order. The shapes store inside the orange plastic plates that are tied together with green yarn in three places. Just leave the label “Pumpkin Life Cycle” handle hanging out ready to pull.
Here’s the back…..
Students can practice reciting the life cycle steps while the shapes are inside the plate holder and “reveal” the answer by pulling out the next step.
Another thing I like to do in the fall is to buy pumpkins and let students count how many seeds are in each. If you wait until the day after Halloween, you can really get these cheaply (sometimes free!).
Before you begin, estimate the weight height and width of each pumpkin and how many seeds they think will be inside. See who is closest. Give students some comparable weights of things to help them estimate (toaster? Dictionary? Bowling Ball?)
Its fun to estimate which pumpkin IS the biggest, heaviest or has the highest number of seeds inside. They are often surprised to find that asymmetrical pumpkins are deceiving and that the largest pumpkins don’t necessarily contain the largest or largest NUMBER of seeds inside. Sometimes the largest pumpkin is not the DENSEST.
Think about what tools would be needed to compare your pumpkins. Will a ruler do, or would a tape measure help? What units should we use to measure and weigh our pumpkins? A really good lesson is to measure and weigh the pumpkins in two units (e.g. inches vs. meters.)
After cleaning their pumpkins you can create a chart that includes the number of seeds that are found in each child’s pumpkin. You can see what the average number of seeds is.
There is no end to what you can discover from a project like this. Perhaps you could weigh the pumpkin before and after. Estimate how far the pumpkin seeds would go if laid end to end….
I recommend buying pumpkin-carving knives for children when you see them on sale during the fall season. Many children are not allowed to help in the kitchen (even if there IS someone at home who knows how to cook) They so enjoy being able to carve their own pumpkin.
I believe in many Montessori principles at home and in the classroom. Giving children the skills and tools to discover is very empowering. As soon as my own children could stand on a kitchen chair they were helping in the kitchen with their pumpkin-carving knives. As a result, they had excellent hand-eye coordination and small motor skills in the early primary years.
Don’t forget to roast the pumpkin seeds for a nutritious snack!
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds Recipe
1 1/2 cups raw whole pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons butter, melted
1 pinch salt
Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C).
Toss seeds in a bowl with the melted butter and salt. Spread the seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 45 minutes or until golden brown; stir occasionally.