Activity: Pumpkin Party!
- Pumpkins, paper, pen or pencil, measuring tape or string, bathroom scale, measuring cup
- One half hour per measurement activity
- Measurement, subtraction
Several pumpkins of different sizes are great for learning activities! Kids can estimate and compare size, weight and volume to actual measurements they take themselves. Why not throw a party and invite other children to bring their pumpkins?
Ask children how much they think their pumpkin weighs just by looking at it. Ask them to write down the number. Next, ask them to try and pick up their pumpkin. If their estimate changes, ask them to write down that number.
Now weigh the pumpkin. You can simply put the pumpkin on a bathroom scale, but a more challenging method is to first weigh the child, and then weigh the child holding the pumpkin. Can children figure out how much the pumpkin weighs by comparing those weights?
If you have more pumpkins to estimate and weigh, do the estimates get more accurate? If so, congratulate kids on their increasing accuracy!
Ask kids to estimate the height, width and circumference of their pumpkins. You can show kids how their estimates can be more accurate by making comparisons. Demonstrate holding your hand flat at the top of the stem and peeking at the distance between your hand and the table. What else is the same height?
Let children use their hands to guess the measurements of their pumpkin. Explain that the circumference is the distance all the way around the pumpkin’s middle. Children might walk their fingers all the way around to make a guess.
Now, pull out a tape measure and help kids take measurements. Measure the pumpkin’s height like you measure a child's. Place the pumpkin on the floor (or other flat surface) and against a wall. Set a straight edge on top of the pumpkin at a right angle to the wall, then make a dot with a pencil or mark it with tape. Measure the distance from the mark to the floor.
It’s a similar process for width. With the pumpkin still against the wall, place the straight edge vertically against the opposite side of the pumpkin. Mark the point on the floor, and then measure the distance from the point to the wall. Not all pumpkins are round, so try turning the pumpkin a quarter turn to see if there is a difference. How much?
For circumference, use a flexible tape measure or wrap a string around the pumpkin’s middle. Mark or cut where the string meets itself, pull the string out straight and then measure the length.
When the time comes to carve pumpkins, ask kids to guess how much water the pumpkin can hold. Have a bucket and a measuring cup ready so that kids can put their guesses to the test. Cut the top off the pumpkin and pull out the guts. Have kids count the cups out loud as they pours them in to fill the pumpkin. For particularly large pumpkins, it might be easier to start with quarts.
Pour the water back into the bucket for measuring the volume of other pumpkins.
If you want to add a challenge and extend the activity, why not introduce metric measurements? If the activity began with pounds, inches and quarts, try it all again with kilograms, centimeters and liters.
How did the measurements compare to estimates? Kids love measuring tapes and rulers, so don't be surprised if they begin to measure everything in the house! The more practice they gets, the more accurate thier estimates will become.
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