Teaching Pumpkin Maths

06/10/2020

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!

Estimating number

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!

Measuring with pumpkins

Carve the pumpkin up into chunks and encourage the children to feel and 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!

You could also estimate the weight of the contents of a the pumpkins. You’ll just require some extra bowls, scoops and elbow grease to remove the contents and weigh them.

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.’

What to do with your empty pumpkins afterwards . . .

You may choose to turn your pumpkins into lanterns or you might give them back to nature when you’re done investigating all of these mathematical opportunities!

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!

For more outdoor learning opportunities that combine the curriculum with nature, head on over to our Planning Hub!

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