As a type a, perfectionist, neat freak teacher, it took me a while to get comfortable with the idea of doing
fun messy things in the classroom. I always made my activities fun and engaging, but messy? Nah…. But, eventually I learned to loosen up and have some fun with my kiddos. Fun that made a MESS! Now that fall is upon us, it is a great time to incorporate some pumpkin activities in the elementary classroom.
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Stock Photography provided by Atelier21 Co
I don’t know about you, but I LOVE to decorate my classroom with each season. I spend more time there then I do in my own home, so why not make it feel homey?
A few years back, my then boyfriend (now husband) took me to a pumpkin patch at a local church (It probably helped that his Aunt worked there!) and let me pick out as many pumpkins as a I wanted! I loaded them all up and took them to my classroom to decorate for fall.
Pumpkin Activities for the Elementary Classroom
Once fall was beginning to wind down I planed some fun pumpkin activities to make use of those pumpkins adorning my classroom.
I like to do this first activity on Halloween (or the day after) as a way to keep the Halloween distraction at bay and engage my students in meaningful lessons.
How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?
One of my favorite books for the fall is, How Many Seeds Are in a Pumpkin?
I read this book with my students. Then each team went back to their table and proceeded to open up the pumpkin and count the seeds.
(or, sometimes I have a special reader come in and read the book to the class!)
The students had to vote as a team how they would count their seeds. By 1’s, 5’s, 10’s, or some different denominator.
This, then, allows for a whole range of math activities you can do after:
- Compare tables amounts of seeds
- Estimation before the seeds are counted
- Graph tables amount of seeds
- Weigh pumpkins and compare (could also lend well to Science!)
(One year, I even took the pumpkin seeds home, baked them, and brought them back the next day to eat- there’s a whole nother lesson there!)
It’s time to step up your photo-taking-game! Taking photos in the classroom is a great way to capture memories and share stories with parents of what is going on in the classroom. It doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming!
Small Moment Writing
Another fun way to incorporate pumpkin activities into your curriculum is by writing about pumpkins. Students can write about the physical features of a pumpkin. This would also be a great time to talk about writing descriptively.
One year, during writing about “small moments” I used the “pumpkin idea” vs “seed idea” as a mini lesson.
Pumpkin ideas are big stories (I moved to Germany) where as a seed idea is more specific (packing to move to Germany). This is a great visual, especially for our ELLs, because they can SEE the difference between two types of stories.
Creative Writing Activity
Another pumpkin activity for the elementary classroom (and a favorite of mine) comes straight from my time in Teacher Fellows. I read the book “Where the Wild Things Are” and then students each get a piece of paper to draw their “wild thing.”
The catch is that they only get one color marker or crayon (I tell them this before we start) and 30-45 seconds to draw (I don’t tell them this part!).
Once the timer goes off, they have to pass their paper to the person to their right. Then another 30-45 seconds of drawing on that new “wild thing.” All the way until it makes it back to the original owner.
After the drawing, you can do the same scenario, but with writing. And you can actually use this with any book, not just Where the Wild Things Are.
They start writing their story and after a minute or so it moves on to the next student to continue the writing. Then at the end they can do a Round Robin to read each story. The kids will get a huge laugh out of the pictures and stories they create!
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Sometimes it’s not even about incorporating physical pumpkins into the classroom, but including fun drops of the season into daily work.
Here are a few blogs I found with some pumpkin activities that I thought were worth showing you!
- A pumpkin investigation foldable to help take notes as students investigate pumpkins. This resource is geared towards lower elementary.
- Here are some fall center activities for math. But they are fall-y and fun! That makes it all better. And here is her blog post about the activities.
- I love these STEM ideas for fall. Some of them are more for home, but sometimes all we need are ideas to get our creative juices flowing and figure out how we can adapt them to work in our classroom!
- The Inspired Apple shares an even better selection of round up posts about fall and pumpkin activities you should check out!
Favorite Fall Books
The thing I miss most in the classroom is reading to my kids. I think if I ever ventured up to middle school I would still do Read Alouds and picture books. Something about them just makes me feel so cozy and happy!
Here are a few of my favorite books to read in the fall!
Fall Leaves is a beautiful picture book written by Louetta Holland. I don’t want to give away the “secret” of the book and why I love it so much, but I think when you read it you will understand what I mean!
How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin, the book I referenced above.
From Seed to Pumpkin is a great book to incorporate in a Science lesson.
And, of course, anything Gail Gibbons is going to be great! Her book, The Pumpkin Book, is a great book to have in your classroom library.
I had How Big Could Your Pumpkin Grow in my Book on CD collection and always brought it out around Fall for my kids to enjoy.
Keep in mind, after you bring said guest to school to read and do pumpkin stuff with your kiddos, he needs a nap! (And he wonders why I am so tired on Friday nights?!?)
A key to doing engaging lessons like these shared here is classroom management. Without a solid management plan your kids will go crazy with all the fun. Here are 9 Classroom Management Tips I recommend.
What fun activities are you doing in your classroom this fall? I’d love to hear them below!
With the holiday season right around the corner, here are some other holiday related blogs for the classroom.
Until next time,
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