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Pumpkins bring many opportunities for exploration into the preschool classroom. My STEM Pumpkin Investigation Pack will guide you through each step of the exploration.
Each stage invites children to create a hypothesis or make a prediction about each investigation, and then record the results.
This investigation may take 1-2 weeks depending on how many investigations you carry out per day. Projects that last multiple days help students to develop historical thinking and attentiveness.
What Does a Pumpkin Look Like?
The first step is to encourage students to explore the outside of the pumpkin. Invite the preschoolers to explore the pumpkin using their sense of smell, touch, and sight.
They may be interested in trying to pick it up,
Questions to Ask:
On the first sheet, invite students to record what they see on the outside of the pumpkin, and what they think they will see on the inside. You can supply them with a variety of media for recording their predictions. Some suggestions are:
How Many Lines Does the Pumpkin Have?
In this step, first invite students to predict how many lines are on the pumpkin. Next, invite students to count the number of lines on the pumpkin. This helps to develop their one-to-one correspondence and cardinality. Children might be interested in using a pen or marker to mark the lines as they count them.
What is the Circumference?
In this step, consider asking students if they know what circumference means and be prepared with an explanation such as the distance around an object.
Consider inviting students to measure around their own belly before making their predictions. For students that are not yet writing, stickers with numbers may be helpful to have available for their predictions.
How Tall is the Pumpkin?
There are two methods offered in this pack for measuring the height of the pumpkin. Measuring with a ruler (standard) and measuring with Unifix cubes (or other "non-stand" unit of measurement). You can do either, or both!
Measuring with the Unifix Cubes creates a valuable opportunity to let the children see how their predictions measure up.
Invite each student to predict how many cubes they will need. Record the number and distribute the blocks. Next, invite students to stack the blocks and then compare to the pumpkin.
Questions to Ask:
How Much Does the Pumpkin Weigh?
Here is another great opportunity to encourage the children to investigate their own body as well as the pumpkin. Invite children to weigh themselves before they make their predictions about how much the pumpkin weighs. Encouraging this type of investigation supports children in their development of Self-Awareness.
Once each child has a chance to weigh themselves, it's time to weigh the pumpkin!
Does the Pumpkin Sink or Float?
For this step a little extra preparation may be needed. You need to choose the scale on which you need to do this task. Outside or inside? Will you provide a variety of pumpkin sizes for them to test? Will you provide other objects for them to test to extend their learning?
Once the invitation to explore is prepared, ask your students to make a hypothesis as to what will happen when they drop their pumpkins into the water.
How Many Seeds are Inside?
Finally, it's time for the last, and possibly most fun, step! Investigating inside the pumpkin! For this step a little extra preparation may be in order. You might consider laying down paper, a shower curtain, or old sheet to catch any stray seeds or goo. This would be an excellent exploration to do outside if weather permits.
Have a bowl handy for collecting seeds. Consider having scoops or spoons available for students that wish to use them either for scraping or because they don't want to touch the flesh.
Some children may be extra sensitive to the feeling of the seeds and pulp, it's a good idea to be ready to accommodate these students so they can still participate at their individual comfort level.
Once all the seeds are removed, invite students to count the total number of seeds. If there are too many to count, that's okay! Count as high as you would like and/or as long as the children are interested.
To bring the project to a close, consider roasting the pumpkin seeds or placing them in the sensory bin for further exploration. Consider displaying photographs along with the children's investigation sheets for the children and parents to review!
Below are just a few vocabulary words you might consider using during the exploration:
Linking the Learning to Early Learning Standards
Many Early Learning Programs strive to link their lessons to their state early learning standards. While the language in each state's early learning standards may vary, many of them are similar. Below are just some of the Early Learning Standards this project meets:
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