I can still picture the faces on my children the first time we allowed them to help us to pick out pumpkins for Halloween. They had plans for these big orange spheres and could visualize just what they wanted their jack o’ lanterns to look like. They chatted the entire way home about what they would name their soon to be pumpkin creature. In addition to this, they plotted out the shapes they wanted the eyes and other parts to be carved.
Making a mess in the name of fun and learning
Then a funny thing happened, we sliced into the pumpkins and their facial expressions changed. My boys were simultaneously fascinated and a bit horrified with what they saw. Yes, it was all thanks to the pumpkin guts. We could have pulled the pumpkin guts away from the kids, but we wanted to let them experience it for themselves. The multi-sensory opportunity was a great real life learning tool. There were new textures, sights, and smells all in one. The ooey, gooey, feel of the guts and pumpkin seeds pulled them into the unplanned activity.
So what do pumpkin guts have to do with math?
Well, lots if you think outside of the box and just go with the flow. Without kids even realizing, you can casually work in estimating, measurement, counting, and more.
To get into the Halloween spirit, put on some fun spooky music to get into the mood and have more fun singing together. Now, have each family member scoop out a handful of pumpkin guts without looking. Guess which person will have more pumpkin seeds in their hands. Casually ask why they feel the result may go a certain way. Perhaps they will mention hand size playing a role, or maybe who went last in digging into the guts. Have each person hunt out all of the seeds within their mound of pumpkin guts and count what they found and see what happened.
We are not done playing and learning with the pumpkin guts. Put everything back together in a large bowl. Now use some measuring cups to give each person the same amount of slimy goodness. Have fun seeing how far you can spread the mixture in a line. For older children, you can add a twist to this by using a timer to see who can spread it the longest in 30 seconds. Have a tape measure ready and take turns measuring the spread out pumpkin guts. Does it look like it spread less if you had more pumpkin seeds?
When you cut into your pumpkins this year, add something different to the mix and remember that math fun may already be waiting for you.