FREE printables Pumpkin Carving Math and Language Arts Activities {Descriptive Writing, Rounding, and More}

As we work our way through October the kids become more and more excited about Halloween. I’ve worked in a school where everything stopped and all focus was put on costume parades and classroom parties. I’ve also worked at a school where you were not allowed to even mention the word Halloween. 

And between both ends of that spectrum you’ll find some amazing learning opportunities. In my class we do Haunted House Writing Projects, October-Themed journaling, pumpkin book projects, graphing activities and thematic task cards {rounding and word problemsbecause harnessing that seasonal enthusiasm results in oodles of student engagement. I even introduce rounding using pumpkin-themed number lines and task cards.

So it should not have been a surprise when I spontaneously brought a pumpkin to school and it sparked a wonderful and fun day of learning. As a K-2 teacher, pumpkin carving was an annual tradition. I don’t know why it never crossed my mind to have my 3rd graders do it before, but I am so glad I did.

I was at the store on Thursday night. I saw a big bin of pumpkins. I thought, “My class has been awesome this week. I want to do something fun with them tomorrow. I’ll buy a pumpkin.”

And that is how I work best.

I am a planner at heart. In fact, I tend to be an overplanner.

But, my best lessons have always been the “scrap the plans and go with it” kind. This was no different.
I woke up the next morning and threw together a packet of printables to use with the pumpkin. We had been working on rounding so I was sure to incorporate that as well as a subtraction activity they could do indepdenently while I assisted with pumpkin dissection. We’ve also been focusing on descriptive writing so I simply tweaked the template I had recently made as part of an update to the Haunted House for Sale writing activity.

I didn’t want my kids to enter the class and go 5 kinds of crazy upon seeing the pumpkin so I covered it with a sheet. That’s when I decided to take it a step further. I put the pumpkin in a milk crate, placed a black cloth over it and taped a giant question mark on the front. The kids came in and instead went 10 kinds of crazy. But the excited buzz was the perfect activator to an unplanned lesson on inferencing.

We talked about using what we know to infer what could be inside. Each student made a guess. I began giving them “pieces of information” and they continued to infer what it could be based on that info.

Once the pumpkin was revealed we started talking about estimation and about how many seeds we thought might be inside. I took the top off (which I highly recommend cutting at home) and they looked inside and made new estimates. 

While they worked on the pumpkin-themed rounding and subtraction activity pages, I invited a few students at a time to come to the table and remove and count a handful of seeds. I had them generate descriptive words about how it looked, smelled and felt while they were doing so. This became the base of their descriptive writing.

We added up all the individual student seed amounts to find the sum of all the seeds inside. This was great review of our prior work with place value and addition strategies. The students used that info to complete the math page. Students who were finished early had the choice between rounding their classmates estimates to the nearest 10 and 100 or finding the difference between estimates and the actual sum. I’ll leave these charts posted throughout the week as easy extension activities for early finishers.

During our language arts time they began their work on the descriptive writing pieces by talking with their peers and brainstorming lots of adjectives. I guided them through a graphic organizer to plan ideas and then they worked indepdenently on a draft.

In third grade we do a comprehensive science unit each spring that focuses on the life cycle of plants. This year I did a mini-unit on the life cycle of an apple and will spend some time this week learning about the life cycle of a pumpkin. I am excited to see how that schema will enhance their understanding during our spring unit.

I love when everything comes together neatly. Are you looking for a way to entertain your students’ Halloween giddiness without losing time on learning? I highly suggest simply bringing in a pumpkin. 

And to show my gratitude for all you wonderful folks who follow my teacher store, facebook page, instagram, blog, etc I have added all the printouts as a FREE download which can be accessed through my online catalog or by clicking here.

P.S. You can still use most of the printables even if you don’t want to bring in an actual pumpkin.

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