It seems as though every October social media becomes awash with pumpkin activities! There’s so many fantastic, hands-on learning opportunities presented by pumpkins it’s difficult to resist! Here at Alfresco Learning we have been sharing pumpkin ideas aimed at Key Stage One on our Instagram page, we love sharing practical learning activities on there so come and give us a follow!
Read on for your round up of the top 18 pumpkin activities to carry out with your class this autumn! All of these activities can be done outdoors and cover various objectives in the National Curriculum!
Attract wild birds to your outdoor space with the help of a pumpkin bird feeder. Simply scoop out the contents and refill with bird seed! Pierce the lid with sticks and push them into the rim of the pumpkin to create a little sheltered space for birds to feed. This is a great way to utilise pumpkins after they’ve been carved for Halloween as all of the little carved out spaces serve as perches for the birds to sit on and nibble at the seed inside! Grab yourselves some binoculars and a bird guide to identify the visitors that arrive in your outdoor space, tick off those Key Stage One Science objectives for identifying animals at the same time!
Another great way to use left-over pumpkins from Halloween is to turn them into planters. Simply fill with compost and a plant of your choice, dig a hole into the ground and place your pumpkin in! As the pumpkin decomposes it’s nutrients will be absorbed by the surrounding plants! A brilliant lesson for Year 1 & 2 to revisit over the coming weeks and learn about the life cycle of plants.
For the green-fingered out there, pumpkin seeds present the perfect opportunity to grow your own pumpkin in time for next year! Buying enough pumpkins for a whole class to have one each would be expensive, but if you grow your own it’s free!
Not the most obvious area of the National Curriculum to cover with pumpkins but there’s some brilliant opportunities to create artwork using pumpkin seeds! Once you’ve separated the seeds (or your class have, it’s an excellent fine motor activity!), wash and dry them. Place them into a bag and tip in some food colouring. Tie the bag up, then scrunch the contents around until all of the seeds are evenly covered. Then tip out the contents and leave to air dry overnight! You could make an array of different colours to practise pattern making or use as an invitation for transient art.
Using those dyed pumpkin seeds you could also investigate making mandalas! They present excellent opportunities combining outdoor maths and art; looking at symmetry and exploring more complex patterns. Using a log slice as a base will help children to keep their their mandala circular!
If you would like to make some artwork using a whole pumpkin you could explore patterns and colours using elastic bands! Simply slip them over the top of pumpkins to create your design. This activity is great for building hand strength. You could also incorporate ribbon and practise some weaving skills too!
Use your empty pumpkin shell to experiment with combining baking soda and vinegar! Watch as your pumpkin volcano erupts! You could add food colouring for extra effect and use leftover Halloween carvings to watch the froth spill out of the sides! Make sure to take this one outdoors as it’s sure to get messy!
Using a large container of water you could experiment with floating and sinking! Begin with a whole pumpkin and see if the outcome changes after the contents are emptied out. Investigate how much weight the pumpkin shell can hold whilst still floating or decorate them to become ships which could used for story telling!
Give your maths some meaning using pumpkins. Begin with looking into the pumpkin and estimating how many seeds are inside. Challenge the children to scoop them out and count them all. This is a great problem solving activity, as it encourages the children to organise the seeds in order to count them accurately. Perfect for practising counting in tens for Key Stage One! You could also lay the seeds in a long line outdoors and challenge the children to count along to the largest number they know! A brilliant assessment opportunity for Year One!
Wash and dry the pumpkin seeds and then keep to use as natural loose parts. They’re small so don’t require as much desk space as multi-link and far more tactile for handling! When working practically on calculations use them to demonstrate the process that is happening to the numbers!
Carve the pumpkin up into chunks and encourage the children to feel & compare the weight of the chunks. You could lay them out in order of lightest to heaviest and then use balancing scales to verify your predictions!
Using whole pumpkins you could measure the height in non-standard units, we suggest using log slices, or standard units using a ruler. You could also measure the circumference of the pumpkin using string and a ruler or tape measures. If you have a couple of pumpkins available you could investigate a statement such as ‘taller pumpkins always have a larger circumference’.
If you liked our ideas and are interested would love more for taking your learning outdoors, then you will love our outdoor planning hub! Inside are lessons linking the Key Stage One National Curriculum to the outdoors and after-school club guides to help you on your way with your outdoor learning journey!
Alfresco Learning delivers curriculum based outdoor workshops to schools in Yorkshire and the surrounding areas! Click the button below to find out more!