October is such a great month in the classroom! I’m not just talking about the excitement of Fall (my favorite season) and Halloween, but it’s also right around the time when our students are in the swing of things and our routines and procedures start to really stick.
This means it’s time to have some fun and embrace the glorious month of October!
I’d like to introduce you to… Pumpkin Day: a hands-on, collaborative activity for grades 2-5, that incorporates estimating, measuring, counting and PUMPKINS!
Mixing math and pumpkins? It’s a yes for me! Here’s everything you need for a super fun Pumpkin Day in your classroom.
- Serrated Knife or Pumpkin Carving Knife (for cutting the top of pumpkins) *adult use only, obviously.
- Scale (for weighing the pumpkins)
- Yarn (for estimating circumference of pumpkins)
- Rulers (for measuring height of pumpkins)
- Drop cloths/Plastic table cloths (for protecting your floors or tables)
- Gloves (optional – for students)
- Pumpkin Day Recording Freebie
You’ll want enough pumpkins that students can work in a small group and each group will have one pumpkin to share. I send home a note to parents informing them of the upcoming “Pumpkin Day” and asking for pumpkin donations. You’ll want pumpkins of various sizes, none of those tiny pumpkins, the bigger the better! Students will undoubtedly start holding out their arms asking if they can bring a pumpkin *thiiiiiiiiiiiis big* …and my answer is: You can bring any sized pumpkin that you can carry all by yourself. (This clearly limits the size of pumpkins because my students are 8, but you can specify sizes that fit your style.)
Grab the freebies at the top of this page!
Setting Up for Pumpkin Day
To prepare for Pumpkin Day, gather the supplies listed above, and possibly recruit a parent or two to help you. If parents aren’t an option, I recommend cutting the tops of the pumpkins before school starts, and instructing students not to open the top until asked to do so. You may even want to tape it closed until it’s time for them to dive in.
I buy cheap pack of tablecloths for for this–I actually like to keep a stash of them in my classroom because they always come in handy. Lay the tablecloths around your classroom (we work on the floor) and put one pumpkin at each area. You’ll also want to have a ruler, a ball of yarn, a pair of scissors, recording sheets for each group member, and pencils set up before students get started.
Make it very clear that no one touches the pumpkin until asked to do so! This is important 🙂
Time to Estimate!
First, using the Pumpkin Day recording sheet, students will illustrate their pumpkin. Encourage them to label all parts of the pumpkin, including any blemishes or distinctions they find. Each student will need their own recording sheet. Download it for FREE at the top of this page!
Next, it’s time to estimate! Students will estimate the height, weight, circumference and number of seeds they think are inside the pumpkin. If I lost you at “circumference” because you’re an elementary teacher, use this opportunity to introduce your students to the term and what it means. The way we do this part in my 3rd grade classroom is not how I would expect 7th graders to find circumference. We just discuss that it means the distance around a circular shape, in our case: the pumpkin.
Finding the circumference: I instruct each student to cut a piece of yarn that they think will go around the pumpkin perfectly, without crossing at the ends. Then, they use a ruler to measure the piece of yarn they cut. That’s their estimate for circumference. Once it’s time to find the actual measurement, they will wrap the yarn ball around the pumpkin, get it to the perfect spot and cut the yarn. Then, use the ruler to measure that piece of yarn. But now, your kiddos have background knowledge of circumference when they get to it! *win, win*
What is it, actually?!
After all the estimating is done, it’s finally time to get hands-on! Students will find the actual height, weight and circumference. For the seeds, most of my students are ASTONISHED at how many seeds are actually inside a pumpkin. And yes, I have them count them all! You’ll see students divvying up the seeds, sorting them into groups of 10, or coming up with another strategy to speed up their counting. It’s great! This is the part you may want to offer gloves for… or let them get a little messy!!
Note: you’ll want them to get the weight of the pumpkin before they start taking out the seeds. For this part, I travel from group to group with a scale I brought from home, and quickly help them weigh their pumpkin.
For advanced learners or early finishers, have them find the differences between their estimates and actuals. Or, do it together as a whole group!
Once the information on the Recording Sheet is all filled out and the activity is winding down. Surprise them with permanent markers and let them draw faces on their pumpkins. This is always a fun way to let them get creative and celebrate their success!
Here are some other ideas to add to Pumpkin Day!
Use these skill based reading banners after ANY book!
• 4 Templates to choose from: Story Elements, Sequencing, Main Idea/Details, Summarizing
• Fiction OR Nonfiction
• 13 Sets for all seasons and holidays! Grab them all in the bundle and SAVE $!
Always a FAVORITE in my classroom and classrooms around the world! This bestselling resource incorporates descriptive, creative and persuasive writing styles. You students will love writing all about a Haunted House… that they have to sell!
• Includes detailed scaffolding on each page so students can work independently and have plenty of ideas to write about
• Students illustrate each page to match their writing
• Great for an author’s writing celebration around Halloween time! Have students vote on which Haunted House they would buy!
Review and reinforce important math skills and strategies with fun Halloween themed task cards, perfect for 3rd graders or 4th grade students who need a little extra practice!
• Rounding, Addition & Subtraction Task Cards
• Multiplication Task Cards
• Graphing & Data Task Cards
Halloween Reading Comprehension Graphic Organizers
15 Halloween-themed graphic organizers for any fiction & nonfiction text! Use throughout the month of October and beyond! You will find that these graphic organizers quickly become an essential part of your ELA block.
If you try any of these activities or resources in your classroom, let me know how it went! I’d love for you to tag me in any photos you share on Instagram!! Check out this blog post for 13 No-Prep Fall Activities. Or, are you ready for some ideas to try in December? Check out this blog post!