Pumpkins used to teach math, science
Tuesday, November 13, 2012 4:39 AM
Pumpkins might not be top-of-mind for teaching kids math and science, but recently the kindergarteners at Spring Grove Public School practiced their estimating, weighing and measuring skills using pumpkins.
Jenna Britian works on recording information in her booklet. Her group has already traced and counted the lines on their pumpkin.
Parent volunteers came to the two kindergarten classrooms on Oct. 31 to help with the activity. The students were divided into groups of three or four students with one parent volunteer. Each group had their own pumpkin. The students were all given a booklet to complete.
Each member of the group cut a piece of string to the length that they thought would fit around the pumpkin. Once all had guessed on the circumference of the pumpkin, they got to use their string to measure around the pumpkin to see if their guess was too short, just right or too long.
Their next activity also involved estimating, but this time they were estimating how many vertical lines were on the pumpkin. Each made an estimate and recorded it in their booklets. Then, using a permanent marker, they traced the lines as they counted them.
Weight and height were also estimated and measured. For height, the students used Unifix cubes as their form of measurement. They enjoyed guessing how many cubes high their pumpkin was and then actually stacked the cubes together to see how accurate their estimate was.
Pumpkins seem very dense and heavy and an unlikely thing to float. Students got to learn a little about buoyancy and water displacement when they placed their pumpkins in a large tub of water.
"Sometimes the students were really surprised when their heavy pumpkin floated," commented kindergarten teacher, Betty Johnson. "It was fun to hear them talking about what they thought their pumpkin would do (float or sink) and why."
The more "traditional" part came next - cutting the top off and removing the seeds and all of the insides.
"Many of the kids wouldn't touch the 'slimy, gross stuff' so many of the parents were cleaning out the pumpkins alone," remarked Johnson with a smile.
Once they had the "guts" out of the pumpkin, they separated the seeds from the rest. Then the big task of counting the seeds began!
Many groups sorted the seeds into groups of 10 to make the counting easier. One group counted 510 seeds. Another group with a much smaller pumpkin counted 160.
After seed counting was complete, the students in each group voted on the shape of the eyes, nose and mouth, and then the parents proceeded to carve the group's pumpkin.
"I think it was a great learning experience," commented Johnson. "The parent volunteers and the kids had a blast! We are very thankful for all of the parent volunteers - this activity couldn't have been done without them."
There are two sections of kindergarten this year with Johnson and Amy Milbradt as teachers. They intermixed the students for this activity to give the students a chance to spend a little more time with fellow classmates they may not see as often.
They completed their pumpkin activity day with the decorating of sugar cookies from the cafeteria. They used chocolate chips to make their own jack-o-lantern faces that they could eat this time!