We are heading to the farm next week, and our students are really excited about getting a chance to pick their own pumpkins! In preparation, we have been learning about the pumpkin life cycle and we had some really fun hands-on activities using pumpkins in our classroom:
Pumpkin geoboards are a great fine motor activity, and our students were so excited to use it. It seemed like a simple enough idea: get a pumpkin, put pushpins in it, add elastics, and you have a great fine motor activity. Right? Well if you thought that, well I have a newsflash for you: you are WRONG! I had this great invitation to create set-up. Students were super excited to use it…….. Then everything went horribly wrong. As soon as students started putting elastics on the pushpins they ricocheted around the room. It was like super pointy bullets flying across our kindergarten classroom. Super dangerous. So I closed the center, and hot glued the pushpins during morning recess. I thought to myself, “well that’s that. I know for next time”. Again, I was wrong… they still went sailing across our classroom as soon as the elastic hit them. ARGH! So I took the pumpkin away and put regular geoboards out and told the students I would try to come up with a solution (they really wanted to use the center). I went home and I thought about it, then looked to see if other teachers had attempted the activity. And they had, apparently with much greater success than me. I also saw that some other teachers had used nails instead. So the next day, I made a second attempt, this time with a hammer and some nails:
This approach worked so much better. The nails stayed in the pumpkin and our students have used it and loved it! I’m so glad I didn’t give up on this activity, and I hope that other teachers can learn from my crazy experience (I can joke about it because no one was hurt, but in all seriousness, it could have easily been a disaster).
It is a great fine motor center, the students pointed out different shapes they saw or created, they worked cooperatively, and they thought it was so much fun. A great fall-time center, if you get it right!
Pumpkin Patch Play Dough:
This pumpkin patch play dough loose parts center was a fun way to reinforce each stage of the life cycle of a pumpkin.
We set out some materials to inspire students: green pipe cleaners, cinnamon sticks, pumpkin cookie cutters and yellow pompoms. We also added a book about pumpkins, and a chart of the life cycle of a pumpkin (not pictured). When I made the play dough I added pumpkin spice (I got it from Bulk Barn) to the dough, and it smells delicious! A definite hit with our students!
Our class was so creative with this center. Some students did the life cycle, other students made a pumpkin patch, others made pumpkins. They all had a great time, and it was a great way for them to reinforce some of the concepts we have been learning about in science.
Build a Sight Word Jack-O-Lantern:
This literacy center was inspired by my teaching partner saying that she could not find any new Halloween literacy centers. She kept looking through Pinterest, and nothing new was coming up. So I wanted to make something that would challenge students to write their sight words, while having fun!
They had a great time creating different Jack-O-Lanterns and writing the sight words. It was a popular center all day, and if you would like to try it, you can get your own copy of this activity in my store by clicking here:
5 Little Pumpkins STEM Challenge:
Of course, no pumpkin unit would be complete without a STEM challenge to go with it. We challenged our students to build a gate that could hold all five of the pumpkins (made out of foam pieces I bought at the dollar store. I used a Sharpie to draw a face on them). We have been singing the 5 Little Pumpkins song all week, and we thought our students would enjoy an engineering challenge. It was great to see all the different designs they made, and watching them try different materials to see what would work best.
What are your favourite pumpkin activities to do with your students?
I *love* the Sight Word Jack a Lantern literacy center! What a fun way for children to practice their sight words! And your STEM activity makes me wish I could see all the engineering creations that your students ended up with! If you want another great children’s story that fits perfectly with your jack a lantern theme but isn’t in the least frightening, we love the story “Too Many Pumpkins” by Linda White…here’s a link to a YouTube reading. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5j1dNM2GKs It’s one of our autumn favorites. 🙂
Thank you for the book suggestion! I love tying in different books with what we are learning.
Oh, I wish I was in your class! What great activities you have! I especially like the stem activity, building a bridge to hold five pumpkins! Thanks for sharing your ideas with us!