Pumpkin puzzler

Uncover your child's problem-solving style with this creative craft.

Learning Stages

This week my students found themselves face to face with an activity that seemed to place little question marks above the heads of 21 students. The assignment:

Create a pumpkin from six rectangular orange strips by bending or cutting the paper. You must use each strip and can have no paper left over. I could almost hear their brains working: How can I turn a shape with sharp edges into something round?

Each student went to work in their private office, so each student’s idea would be unique to their style and personality. Privacy is crucial to yield individual designs. Student responses quickly fell into three categories:

The Light Bulbs: As soon as these students could get their fingers on the paper strips a pumpkin began to appear.

The Thinkers: These students needed processing time before they could actually formulate a product.

The Waiters: There were a few students who were waiting for a lifeline to figure out what to do with the bright orange papers in front of them (with guidance, most students were able to create an object similar to a pumpkin).

This activity demonstrates of how young minds work. When faced with a problem, each child has a different way of solving it and finding their way through the challenge. Some got it the first time, while others needed to start over. The students were able to recognize how each student’s project was different and special at the same time. Who knew problem solving could help children discover this big idea?

Problem solving activities like this will prepare your child to think independently and creatively. I loved watching the kids’ faces as the pumpkins were revealed—such great example of how there can be more than one "right answer."