All kids love the fall – and even more so, they love pumpkins! So after you visit the farm this fall and y’all pick pumpkins, why not use those pumpkins as a basis of the week’s classwork and lessons?! Here’s some thoughts and ideas, straight from the pumpkin patch. Tweak the ideas and concepts so they’re just right for your class.
Cinderella’s pumpkin was used as a coach. And last year, a creative New Englander used a giant pumpkin as a motorboat. Challenge your class to brainstorm new and unusual uses for pumpkins!
Nutrition & Health
Pumpkins are rich in Vitamin A and potassium, high in fiber and have a variety of nutritional and medical benefits:
- They were once recommended as a cure for freckles.
- They were used as a remedy for snakebites.
- The seeds help avoid prostate cancer in men.
- Pumpkin seeds can be roasted for a snack.
- Students can pick up three pumpkins, one at a time, and predict the weights: heaviest, middle, and lightest. Invite them to record their pumpkin weight predictions. Then weigh the pumpkins. Do the predictions match the weights? Encourage students to create a chart to organize their findings.
- Measure the circumference of the same three pumpkins. Does the heaviest pumpkin have the largest circumference? What conclusions can students draw about the relationship between weight and circumference?
- Find the relationship between the size of a pumpkin and the number of ribs. In how many ways can this relationship be expressed?
- Predict which pumpkin (the largest? the smallest?) will have more seeds. Hollow out those two pumpkins and count the seeds of each. Predict how many seeds the middle- sized pumpkin will have. Students can find out how close their predictions are.
- Challenge students to find a way to divide the pumpkin seeds so each class member has the same number.
- This is the perfect time for students to explore some of the history behind pumpkins.
Students can research where pumpkins originated. When were they first raised? By whom?
- What is a jack-o’-lantern? Where did the term come from? What are other meanings of the term jack-o’-lantern?
Language, Arts, Reading, Writing
- Place one or more pumpkins in view of the students. Ask them to write a list of words to describe the pumpkin.
- Invite students to write a paragraph describing a jack-o’-lantern face. When finished, they can exchange assignments and draw the face as described in the paragraph they are handed.
Science (How Pumpkins Grow)
1. Leafy vines grow from pumpkin seeds.
2. Yellow-orange flowers bloom on the pumpkin vine, then wither.
3. The flowers’ ovaries (at the base of the flower) swell and become tiny green pumpkins.
4. The pumpkins grow larger and change color and…
5. About 4 months after planting, they’re ready to harvest.
Fun Facts About Pumpkins
- Pumpkins are 90% water
- Pumpkins are a fruit (fruits have seeds, vegetables don’t)
- Pumpkins can vary in color from white to yellow to orange based on the type of pumpkin it is.
- Pumpkins are grown all over the world on six of the seven continents, with Antarctica being the only continent that they’re not grown
- The “pumpkin capital” of the world is Morton, Illinois
- The Irish brought the tradition of pumpkin carving to America. They had started by carving pumpkins first
- Pumpkin flowers are edible
- Pumpkins are cousins to squash
- The largest pumpkin pie ever made was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs and took six hours to bake
- The largest pumpkin ever grown weighed 1,262 pounds
- 80% of the U.S. pumpkin supply is available in October
A Fun Pumpkin Poem
One day I found two pumpkin seeds; I planted one and pulled the weeds.
It sprouted roots and a big, long vine; a pumpkin grew; I called it mine.
The pumpkin was so round and fat; I really am quite proud of that.
But there is something I’ll admit; that has me worried just a bit.
I ate the other seed, you see; now will it grow inside of me?
I’m so relieved since I have found; that pumpkins grow only in the ground!