Theme: Fall

The Pumpkin and Its Parts


Objective: Children will explore and identify the parts of a pumpkin and understand its growth cycle from seed to mature fruit.

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What You Will Need

  • 1 medium-sized pumpkin
  • Spoons – 1 per child
  • Scoops - 3
  • Carving knife – for adult use
  • Tweezers – 1 per child
  • Magnifying glasses – 1 per child
  • Newspaper – to cover tables
  • Chart paper
  • Marker

What To Do

  1. Create a chart with two columns labeled, “What we know” and “What we learned.”
  2. Place the pumpkin in a central spot and give the children time to explore it. Write down some of their observations.
  3. Gather as a group and have the children take turns sharing what they already know, such as “it is a pumpkin,” “it grows in the ground,” and “you can eat them.” Write their observations in the “What we know” column of the chart.
  4. Explain to the children they will be learning more about this pumpkin using some tools (display a spoon, a pair of tweezers, and a magnifying glass).
  5. Ask the children to explain how they might use the tools to learn about the pumpkin.
  6. Cut the pumpkin open. As you are cutting, let the children see that it has a very thick rind and is difficult to cut.
  7. Using the scoop, remove a bit of the pulp and place it next to the pumpkin. Let the children take turns scooping out the remaining seeds and pulp. Have them estimate how many seeds are in the pulp. Record their guesses.
  8. Distribute the tools: magnifying glasses, tweezers, and spoons. Give each child a portion of the pulp and ask the children to separate the seeds from the pulp.
  9. Give the children time to investigate the pulp and the seeds.
  10. As a large group, have the children share what they discovered about pumpkins from their exploration. Write their observations on the “What we learned,” side of the chart.
  11. Talk about the growth cycle of a pumpkin (see Did You Know).
  12. Save some seeds to plant and send some seeds home with each child.

Guiding Student Inquiry

  • Where might you see a pumpkin?
  • Tell me something you have eaten that had pumpkin as an ingredient.
  • Describe the pumpkin. How does it feel, look, smell?
  • Compare the outside of the pumpkin and the stem. Do they feel the same or different?
  • Describe how the pulp looks, feels, and smells.
  • Describe the inside of the pumpkin.
  • Where do you think pumpkins come from?
  • Tell me some other things that remind you of a pumpkin (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew).

Explore, Extend and Integrate

  • Place the hollowed-out pumpkin shell outdoors. Monitor it daily to observe any changes. Let the children draw pictures to record their observations. Encourage them to hypothesize what might be causing the changes they see.
  • Add a collection of pumpkins to your numeracy, literacy, or discovery center. The children can count, sort, sequence, weigh, compare/contrast, and write about the pumpkins.
  • Roast some of the seeds for a cooking activity and eat them during snack time.

Check for Children’s Understanding

  • Can each child name what is inside the pumpkin?
  • Could children describe the parts of the pumpkin?
  • Could children share in the discussion of the life cycle of a pumpkin?

Did You Know?

Pumpkins can vary in size from less than a pound to over 1,000 pounds! Many parts of a pumpkin are edible, including the flower, leaves, seeds, and the soft part of the rind. The word “pumpkin” comes from the Greek word “pepon,” which means large melon. Many of us are familiar with orange pumpkins, but they can also be other colors, including yellow and white.

Learn More »


Vocabulary

  • hollow
  • pulp
  • seed
  • rind
  • stem
  • carve

Child-Friendly Definitions »


Common Core State
Standards Initiative

These lessons are aligned with the Common Core State Standards ("CCSS"). The CCSS provide a consistent, clear understanding of the concepts and skills children are expected to learn and guide teachers to provide their students with opportunities to gain these important skills and foundational knowledge.**

Learn More »

Did You Know?

Pumpkins can vary in size from less than a pound to over 1,000 pounds! Many parts of a pumpkin are edible, including the flower, leaves, seeds, and the soft part of the rind. The word “pumpkin” comes from the Greek word “pepon,” which means large melon. Many of us are familiar with orange pumpkins, but they can also be other colors, including yellow and white.

Pumpkins are actually fruits, not vegetables. They are eaten by many cultures around the world. The pumpkin plant begins as a small teardrop-shaped seed. When planted, the seed produces leafy vines which then sprout flowers. The flowers quickly wither, and small round green pumpkins emerge at the base of the flower. Pumpkins mature in approximately four months and are harvested in early fall.

Vocabulary

  • hollow — something that has empty space on the inside.
  • pulp — the soft, wet, and juicy part of a fruit.
  • seed — the little part of a plant that grows into a new plant; seeds can have flowers.
  • rind — the firm and thick covering or outer layer; oranges, lemons, melons, and some cheeses have rinds.
  • stem — the main part of a plant that comes out of the ground and supports the branches, leaves, and other parts.
  • carve — to change the form of something by cutting or slicing and removing parts of it.

Lesson Tips

- The pulp of a pumpkin can be quite sticky and squishy; some children may prefer to wear plastic gloves.

- If you have more than ten students in your group, purchase a larger pumpkin or use two medium-sized pumpkins.

Books

- Pumpkin Pumpkin by Jeanne Titherington

- Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin, Pie by Jill Esbaum

- How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara

- Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden by George Levenson

 

Important Legal Disclosures and Information

*While we believe that the books and resources recommended may be of value to you, keep in mind that these are suggestions only and you must do your own due diligence to determine whether the materials are appropriate and suitable for your use. PNC has no sponsorship or endorsement agreement with the authors or publishers of the materials listed. 

**There are currently no Common Core Standards for pre-k, but these lessons are aligned as closely as possible to capture the requirements and meet the goals of Common Core Standards. However, these lessons were neither reviewed or approved by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices or the Council of Chief State School Officers, which together are the owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards.