Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Pumpkin Play

Debbie Funkhouser


The children have some fun with pumpkins while beginning to learn about weight, circumference, buoyancy, and graphing information.


The student uses direct (measured) and indirect (not measured) comparisons to order objects according to some measurable characteristics (length, weight).

The student selects and uses appropriate instruments, such as scales, rulers, clocks, and technology to measure within customary or metric systems.

The student displays solutions to problems by generating, collecting, organizing, and analyzing data using simple graphs and charts.


-Small pumpkins
-Large container of water
-Pieces of string
-Labeled graphs for the class (see Teacher Preparation)
-Permanent markers
-Pumpkin Recording Sheets for each student (see Teacher Preparation)
-Ruler or yardstick
-Chart paper
-Hall, Zoe.It's Pumpkin Time. New York: School and Library Binding, 1994, ISBN 0590478338


The teacher needs to:
1. Procure the number of small pumpkins that you will need. (I like to have a pumpkin for each child so that it can taken home at the end of the lesson.)
2. Prepare two class graphs labeled with the children's names. Use one for the strings to make a -line- graph to show the circumference of each pumpkin. Use the other as a bar graph to show the number of lines on each pumpkin.
3. Prepare the Pumpkin Recording Sheet by making copies of the Attached File.
4. Assemble permanent markers.
5. Put water in a sink or container.
6. Have scales and yardsticks available.
7. Cut pieces of string longer than the circumferences of the pumpkins.


1. Place a basket of small pumpkins in the middle of the floor. During circle time, have the children share, while the teacher lists on a chart, everything they know about pumpkins.

2. While discussing the list, tell the children that they will be learing even more about pumpkins and some of the words that they will be learning are: weight, circumference and buoyancy. Put these words on a chart for later review.

3. Read and discuss It's Pumpkin Time by Zoe Hall

4. Give each child or group of children a small pumpkin.

5. Students examine their pumpkin. Explain that they are going to estimate the number of lines found on each pumpkin and then graph the results. Demonstrate how to make an estimate by -thinking out loud- for students. Allow students to make their estimate and record it on their Pumpkin Recording Sheet. Next tell students they are going to check their estimates by counting the actual number of lines found on the pumpkin. Allow students time to count the lines on the pumpkin and then record this number on the Pumkin Recording Sheet. Later they will color one square for each line counted on the class graph paper.

6. Explain that students are now going to investigate the circumference of a pumpkin. Ask students what they think the circumference is. Clarify that the circumference is the distance around the pumpkin. Give each child or group a piece of string. Students again make an estimate of the circumference of their pumpkin and record it on the Pumpkin Recording Sheet. Then have them measure the circumference of the pumpkin. To figure the length, students will lay the string next to a yardstick to determine how many inches it is around. Attach each string to a paper labeled with that child or group of children's names. Use the strings to make a class -line- graph displaying the results.

7. Continue this procedure to find the weight of each pumpkin. Students will estimate, record the estimate, weigh each pumpkin on a scale, and record this information on the Pumpkin Recording Sheet.

8. Discuss what it means for an object to be buoyant. Students then record their predictions about whether or not they think their pumpkin will float and why. Have the child or children take the pumpkin to the container of water and see if it floats. Record this information on the Pumpkin Recording Sheet.

9. Make permanent markers available and let the children have fun decorating them. Once finished, keep them on display until you are ready for the children to take them home.

10. As a last step, go over all the graphs and analyze the information, i.e. the number of lines, the weights, and the circumferences of the pumpkins. Whose had the most/least lines, whose weighed the most/least and whose was biggest/smallest around? Does more lines mean it is bigger around? Review buoyancy and whether the pumpkins floated or sank. Have the children give a definition for each of the words: weight, circumference and buoyancy. Write these definitions on the chart discussed in number 2 and display along with the pumpkins.


After the lesson there should be:
1. Completed graphs showing circumference and number of lines ordered from least to greatest according to measurement, and amount of lines.
2. Completed worksheet showing correct number of lines, weight, circumference, and buoyancy of the pumpkins.
Because I work with first graders, I like to partner my children with an older child, i.e., a fifth grader. This gives each group a wonderful experience.

Web Links

Web supplement for Pumpkin Play
Pump Up the Curriculum With Pumpkins

Attached Files

A worksheet.     File Extension: pdf

Return to the Beacon Lesson Plan Library.