Pumpkin Math Elementary and Middle School


October 3, 2023
Photo by Sebastien Lapointe on Unsplash

October is the perfect time to create some excitement by incorporating pumpkins into your math instruction. You’d be surprised by how many concepts you can practice using Pumpkin Math! I have used these ideas for classroom and small group instruction as well as for a special “Spooky Math” family event. Please also see my post Free Halloween Math for more ideas!

Upper Elementary/Middle School Pumpkin Math Activities

Estimate the circumference of different sized pumpkins by having students cut a piece of yarn that they think will wrap around the pumpkin. Measure each piece of yarn using a yardstick or tape measure and make a class chart or graph of the different lengths. Test the yarn to see which piece comes the closest! As an extension, students could also chart the diameter of the pumpkins and make discoveries about the concept of pi.

Estimate weight of pumpkins and then use scales to weigh. Extend by having students come up with equations to represent simple algebra problems.  For example, weigh three pumpkins on a scale together.  Remove one pumpkin from the scale.  Then use an equation like Total Weight – P(pumpkin) = New Weight. (idea from Pumpkin School)

Measure the volume of small pumpkins using water displacement.  Record the volume of water in a container. Completely submerge a pumpkin and determine the new water volume measurement.  Then subtract the smaller number from the larger number.

Print and play the Pumpkin Farm game from Mathwire in pairs to practice plot coordinates. Mathwire also has a printable Jack O Lantern coordinate graphing activity for students to complete independently.

Students discover the patterns of Pascals Triangle using Pascals Pumpkins in this free printable activity also from Mathwire.

Education World has a chart describing ten of the biggest pumpkins in the world and related word problems for students in grades 3-8.

Early Elementary Pumpkin Math Activities

As a class estimate and then measure the height of a pumpkin using unifix cubes. Students can then measure paper pumpkins of different sizes using cubes or any other nonstandard measurement unit.

Image from For the Love of First

Use this investigation lesson from Mr. Elementary Math to estimate the number of seeds in a pumpkin and then count the seeds using his free printable grouping mats and recording sheets.

Use pumpkin seeds to decompose numbers and practice making number bonds with this free activity from Math Geek Mama

Print the Pumpkin Jumble Game from Math Wire and have students use pattern blocks to create a jack o lantern face.

Pumpkin Math STEM Activities

Exploding Pumpkins STEM. Learn about potential and kinetic energy, then explode a pumpkin by wrapping it in rubber bands.

Five Little Pumpkins STEM – After learning the Five Little Pumpkins rhyme, students design and build a gate that pumpkins can sit on.

Investigate the weight of pumpkins by building a balance from PVC pipe

Build 2D and 3D shapes with candy pumpkins and toothpicks– one of my students’ all-time favorite special activities

Make a large pumpkin into a geoboard using push pins!

Build a craft stick catapult to launch candy pumpkins (extend by measuring and charting/graphing the distance each pumpkin traveled.)

If you’re a homeschool family or have a small group where you can do a more involved project using tools, you can even build a wooden catapult to launch real pumpkins!

Interdisciplinary Pumpkin Resources

Want to incorporate other subjects? Here are some great interdisciplinary resources

For The Love of First Grade: The Great Pumpkin Investigation includes grammar, reading, writing and science lessons using your pumpkins.

Scholastic’s Pumpkin Project for upper elementary math and science

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