Halloween brings many opportunities for joyous learning in my kindergarten class.

Students recited “spooky” rhymes and sang songs, planned a “haunted” dramatic play area, and learned important math and science skills during Pumpkin Math & Science.

Pumpkin Math:

  • Used the pumpkin to estimate and measure their body length
  • Estimated, measured, and graphed their ideas about the circumference of the pumpkin
  • Estimated the number of seeds in the pumpkin
  • Counted all the seeds by putting ten seeds in Dixie cups, and then counted the cups by tens, to put on a tray to make a hundred. This way they could concretely build their understanding of the number. (There were 102 seeds in the pumpkin!)
pumpkin math with kindergartners
Pumpkin math: measuring the circumference

Pumpkin Science:

  • Predicted whether the pumpkin would sink or float in a large blue bin full of gallons of water.
  • Before the experiment, a rich discussion took place around the bin of water, as students tested objects to see if they would sink or float; this continued in morning meeting. Many students felt sure that “ heavy things can’t float’’ but had to pause when confronted with the idea that “whales and big ships float” which took the conversation into another direction. One student shared that an ocean liner is heavy but will sink if it has a hole in it that takes on water. This led to another child’s pondering about why “whales stay floating—they have a blow hole.”
  • Each child had an opportunity to discover and express his/her ideas and inquiries.

Creating a space for listening to children’s conceptual framework without jumping in too soon with the “right” answer is an important aspect of progressive education. By the time we did the pumpkin experiment many thoughts, questions, and concepts were explored and there was that joyous feeling of discovery and fulfillment of thinking together.