Integrated Pumpkin Activities
November 11, 2008
My favorite week-long event is celebrating the half-way point between the autumnal equinox and the winter solstice (aka Halloween). In this unit, I combine units of math, science, folklore/history, astronomy and healthy eating.
I divide the class into groups and purchase many different sized and different kinds of pumpkins. Each group has to estimate the weight of the pumpkin and verify it on a scale. They estimate the circumference and height and measure using both English and metric units. They record this information on a chart. Next, they make an estimate using Fibonacci numbers. Mathematically, the ribs of the pumpkin emanate out of the flower end of the pumpkin. Have the students count the number of ribs from the flower end and from the stem end. Sometimes they are different, and then use them both to predict the number of seeds. Then using Fibonacci numbers, find the Fibonacci number which corresponds to the number of ribs. Twelve ribs means there should be 144 seeds inside the pumpkin.
I ask parent volunteers to help cut the pumpkins and organize the seeds. We use egg trays to sort the seeds by tens. During this time there will be discussion about what to do with immature seeds; let them decide: do they count them or not? The groups carve faces on the pumpkins, and we take pictures. The parents take the pumpkins home to make a pumpkin recipe for the class party. I do this about 3-5 days before the actual Halloween. Over the next day(s) I read the ‘Legend of Sleepy Hollow.’ On the day of the party, we watch the video version of the story and write down a comparison.
On the actual day of Halloween, we spend the last hour taste testing the edible pumpkin variations made by the parents from the class pumpkins. The students taste test everything and comment on the texture, flavor and what they learned about pumpkins as a versatile fruit. Invariably, this non-candy based gastronomy activity is listed as a favorite thing we did when they write their end-of-the-year remembrances.