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Pumpkin Math

It’s almost Fall and pumpkin season is coming alive. I’ve seen signs for corn mazes, harvest festivals, and of course, Halloween candy out in the shelves at the store. I love this time of year! One thing I love to do in my classroom is explore the anatomy of pumpkins with my students. Even though it is goopy and requires a bit of clean up, kids love to dissect things. And if they’re excited to do work in class, they’re more likely to learn. I typically start the lesson by reading the book titled How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?, by Margaret McNamara.

Pumpkin math games and other fall activities

Here are some other fun ways to combine math and the pumpkin season.

Pumpkin math, literally

Pumpkin math, literally

  1. Get the book “How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin” by Margaret Mcnamara and follow along.
  2. Find out if a pumpkin floats and why, or why not. What about a really large pumpkin? You’d be surprised.
  3. Wrap a string around a pumpkin and guess the size. For extra credit figure out the diameter (hint: 3.14 x diameter = circumference).
  4. Follow some of the fun fall activities at Math Cats.

Share your ideas for pumpkin math games and fall activities by posting your comments below.

How many seeds in a pumpkin?, by Margaret McNamara

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?, by Margaret McNamara

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?

This book shows how one class predicted and counted the number of seeds inside different sized pumpkins. They found that size didn’t necessarily determine the number of seeds inside. Time on the vine, number of ribs, and color all play a role in the number of seeds inside a pumpkin.

Finally, they’re ready to explore the insides of a pumpkin, count the seeds, and see if their predictions are accurate. By using the counting techniques shared in the story, the students begin to explore which techniques for counting are efficient. In the story, as well as in class, the students begin to recognize that counting by 4’s is not as efficient as counting by 10’s when dealing with large numbers. It can also be fun to chart the number of ribs, color, and the number of seeds for all the pumpkins in the class to see if a pattern arises. Looking at data that was self-created is more likely to give kids have those ‘aha’ moments. It is an excellent way to help them realize that math and nature are closely linked!

If you like these pumpkin math problems, check out our 2009 Pumpkin Math Activities Calendar.