During fall, pumpkins are everywhere. Kids go to the farm to pick pumpkins. They carve pumpkins for Halloween. They also eat foods with pumpkin in them – pumpkin pie, pumpkin muffins, maybe even pumpkin cider. But do your students know how pumpkins grow? Whether you’re preparing for a field trip to the pumpkin patch or just want to bring a bit of fall into classroom, this lesson will is designed to help you walk students through the life cycle of a pumpkin.
Bring in a real pumpkin and hold it up for students to see. If you don’t have access to a real pumpkin, then bring in a large picture of a pumpkin or a large foam pumpkin for students to look at. Ask students what the object is (a pumpkin) and have them tell you what they know about pumpkins (they’re orange, they grow on farms, they can carve them, etc.)
Explain to students that you are going to learn about how a pumpkin grows from a seed into a large pumpkin.
However, before you jump into talking about the life cycle of a pumpkin, tell students you’re going to read them a story about how plants grow. Choose one of the following stories from iStoryBooks to share with students:
If students have access to iStoryBooks at home, you may have them choose one of the stories to read the night before.
Exploring the Life Cycle of a Pumpkin
Hold up a pumpkin seed. Ask students if they can tell you what the object is (some may say seed, some may say pumpkin seed). Explain to students that it is a pumpkin seed.
Explain to students that farmers and gardeners plant pumpkin seeds in the ground in the late Spring/early Summer.
Then show students a representation of the life cycle of a pumpkin. You can use pictures of each step of the process, or, if you have access to a pumpkin plant, bring in actual examples of the parts of the process:
- Green pumpkin
- Orange pumpkin
You can model the process on the board by drawing pictures or taping print-outs of each step on the board to show how the pumpkin progresses.
Completing the Activity
Once you’ve gone over the life cycle of the pumpkin with students, have them create a craft to help them remember the life cycle of the pumpkin.
Take two small orange paper plates. If you can’t find orange paper plates, cut out circles from orange construction paper or use white paper that students have cut orange. Cut one of the plates or circles in half and tape or staple it to the front of the other plate or circle, leaving the flat side open like a pocket. You can also tape or glue a green or brown rectangle on top of the full circle/plate to represent the stem of the pumpkin.
Give each student five squares of paper. On each piece of paper, have the students draw a different step of the pumpkin’s life cycle (seed, sprout, plant, flower, green pumpkin). If you want, you can write or print out the names of each part of the cycle to add to the squares. Students can then place the squares inside the pumpkin.
When they are finished, students can take the squares out of the pumpkin and put the life cycle of the pumpkin in order.
Extending the Activity
If you have an actual pumpkin in the classroom, cut it open for students to explore. Let students see what an actual pumpkin seed looks like, touch the stem where the pumpkin was attached to the vine, and feel the inside and outside of the pumpkin.
If you’re taking a field trip to an actual pumpkin patch, point out the different stages of the pumpkin’s life cycle while at the pumpkin patch. You may not see pumpkins in the initial stages, but you can show students the pumpkin plant, green pumpkins, and orange pumpkins. You may also still see a few pumpkin flowers.
Let each student plant a pumpkin seed in a small cup full of soil. Keep the cups in a sunny window in the classroom or have students take them home and put them in a sunny place indoors. While students may not grow a whole pumpkin, they may get to see the sprout and plant stages of the pumpkin’s life cycle.