Make science exciting with these pumpkin science ideas. The pumpkin investigation activities are perfect for a Halloween or fall science center in your preschool and pre-k classroom.
Are you looking for some engaging science activities to fill your science center this fall? Fall is all about pumpkins (or pumpkin spice), so it only makes sense to fill your science center with these fall plants. Check out these pumpkin science activity ideas perfect for fall or Halloween.
Examine the Inside of the Pumpkin
I enjoy carving pumpkins, but when you just cut a little hole at the top of the pumpkin, kids can’t see all of the STUFF inside the cavity. Cut a pumpkin in half so that your kids can see EVERYTHING. Can they find these parts?
- fibrous strands
- skin or rind
- blossom end
Let your children sort the parts of the pumpkin. In the past, I hated touching the slimy pumpkin parts. I’m okay with it now, but you may want to provide some tweezers or small tongs to help kids who don’t want to touch the stuff.
You can also use the seeds for counting activities or in a sensory table. I like how seeds feel in a container of water.
Examine the Outside
I am amazed by the different varieties of pumpkins that I have seen in stores in recent years. Try to get a variety of different kinds and sizes of pumpkins for kids to check out. Are they surprised to see any of them?
Encourage them to pick one of the pumpkins to investigate more thoroughly. What color is the pumpkin? Is it a single color or does it have more than one color? Does it have stripes or lumps? Provide crayons so that your kids can draw pictures of their pumpkin.
What does the outside of the pumpkin feel like? Is it smooth, lumpy, bumpy? Does it have ribs? How many? Sometimes the stem gets knocked off pumpkins. Does their pumpkin still have a stem attached?
Size and Shape
Is the pumpkin small, medium, or large? Is it wide, tall, or round? If you have lots of pumpkins, encourage your kids to sort them by size or shape.
Measure the Pumpkin
Scientists measure and record data. So, if you are doing pumpkin science, you should measure and record data about pumpkins. Kids can measure their pumpkins in several different ways.
Provide a scale for kids to measure the weight of their pumpkin. If you have small pumpkins, you can measure them on a kitchen scale. If you have large pumpkins, you may have to bring in the bathroom scales. They can record results in a blank book or pumpkin investigation book.
If you have tiny pumpkins, kids will enjoy comparing their weight with a bucket or balance scale. Let them compare the weights to find the heaviest and lightest ones.
You can measure the height of a pumpkin with a ruler or measuring strip, but counting cubes are also a fun way for kids to measure things.
They can stack the cubes until they are the same height as the pumpkin and then record the number of cubes in their notebook.
The circumference is the measurement around the pumpkin. Kids can measure with a tape measure or with a string….or both.
Help them cut the string and they can tape it to their investigation book or science journal.
Learn About the Pumpkin Life-Cycle
Provide books so that kids can see pumpkins at different points of development. Extend your pumpkin investigation to other times of the year. If you have space, plant some pumpkin seeds in the spring and watch them develop through the fall.
If you are lucky, you can even be able to take a field trip to a REAL pumpkin patch.
Pumpkin Taste Testing
The Five Senses
Kids can explore pumpkins with all of their senses.
- See – Kids can observe the size, shape, and color of pumpkins. Plus, they can identify the different parts of the fruit.
- Feel -They can feel the cool skin and slimy insides.
- Hear – Ask children to listen closely as they squish the pumpkin pulp with their fingers. Can they hear anything? Encourage kids to knock on pumpkins to hear if they sound differently.
- Smell – If you cut a pumpkin open, the smell will diffuse throughout the room. Does it smell good?
Don’t forget to let kids TASTE pumpkins too!
The Taste Test – Prep
If you have time to bake some fresh pumpkin….go for it. But, it’s super easy to just open a can of pumpkin for sampling. It’s fun to sample pumpkin seeds too. You can roast some fresh pumpkin seeds if you want, or you can get pepitas in the bulk food section of your grocery store. BTW….pepitas are great to have on hand for salads.
I like to control chaos as much as possible, so I like to prep things in advance. You can prep samples in muffin liners…..
….or you can prep samples on small paper plates.
Foods for Tasting
Here is a list of items that you can use for pumpkin taste testing. In addition to canned pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, and pepitas, you can add the following pumpkin baked goods to your sampling menu:
It’s pretty easy to find a variety of pumpkin baked goods at the grocery store in the fall. You don’t have to spend tons of money because you just need to provide a small taste of each food.
Graph and Analyze Data
Make a graph on a large piece of chart paper and the kids can use dot stickers to record how well they like each pumpkin sample. Count up the totals in each grid and help kids analyze the data. Which type of pumpkin was the favorite? Which was the least favorite? How can you tell?
Does the Pumpkin Sink or Float?
Add water to a large, clear container. Kids can predict whether their pumpkin will sink or float, and then they can test their hypothesis. Did they predict correctly? Let them try different pumpkins. Is the result the same?
Pumpkin science can be so much fun. I hope that you and your kids enjoy investigating pumpkins.
Purchase the Printables
The Pumpkin Investigation printables that you see pictured here are available in my store. Click on the image below to get yours today.