Guest Author - Alissa Moy
A pumpkin is a wonderful tool for teaching Math to your Elementary homeschooler. Here are some fun Fall themed ideas you can engage your child in...
For lower grade students, kindergarten through second, ask your child to name the shape of the pumpkin. You can help them measure the distance around the pumpkin using measuring tape, cloth preferred. Use this as an opportunity to discuss inches and centimeters. Identify and measure other like objects in your home, such as melons and toy balls. Compare and contrast their sizes.
Another fun activity for the younger crew is to carve and clean out the pumpkin, while setting aside the pumpkin seeds. Enlist your child to help clean the seeds and then use them for counting manipulatives. Many pumpkins have alot of seeds, so feel free to use as many as you need to not only have your child count, but also to create simple addition and subtraction problems with.
Estimating is another lesson that can be taught with all Elementary grades using pumpkin seeds. Have your homeschooler write their guess, or estimate, of how many seeds they think might be in the pumpkin. After the seeds are cleaned and counted compare your child's guess with the actual result. Try rounding the number of seeds to the nearest ten and hundred. If possible get two pumpkins of like size and compare and contrast the number of seeds in each, estimating before each pumpkin is carved.
Older Elementary students will enjoy not only measuring the pumpkin, but also determining the circumference of it. If you have a scale be sure to weigh the pumpkin before and after carving. Have your child write an estimate of the before and after weight as well. Be sure to subtract the weight after the pumpkin is cleaned from the initial weight of the pumpkin to determine how much "guts" a pumpkin has! If desired, weigh each part of the pumpkin seperately, like the seeds, stem, etc. Then compare all of the weights with one another.
Pumpkins are a wonderful teaching tool, along with many other Autumn foods. After your pumpkin experiments try using gourds to compare and contrast sizes and weights. Apples are fun too, as the estimating and counting of the seeds are more manageable for the younger students. Apples are also super to use for teaching fraction basics and circumference. However you choose to utilize these tasty treats for Math be sure to enjoy a pumpkin or apple pie too, for good measure!
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