Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Combine Science and Fun this Halloween!

Looking for ideas to do with your kiddos this Halloween?  Maybe you are the room mother for your child's class and you would like to do something different for the fall party?  Perhaps you are homeschooling and are looking for something fun to do with your pumpkins this year.  Here's an idea I brainstormed with a friend the other day.

Join us for a PUMPKIN PICNIC

We would set this up in stations, so you could have 3-4 kids at each one and rotate them around for an entire group or class.

STATION 1:  Inside a Pumpkin

Have a the top cut off a pumkin to show the kiddos what the inside looks like.  Briefly show them how you would clean it out, by pulling out the stringy goop (yes, that's the scientific term) and seeds.  Let the kids handle the slimy mess- why should the grown ups have all the fun??  Show them how you would remove the seeds from the sticky mess.  

STATION 2:  Pumpkin Seed Roasting

Show the kiddos how to season and roast the seeds.  Let them toss the seeds in a little olive oil and salt.  Then, as if by magic, pull out a bowl of already roasted seeds for them to taste.  Here's how to roast the seeds if you need a tutorial.  It calls for butter, which works too.  But for mixing purposes in class, I suggest olive oil over melted butter.

STATION 3:  Pumpkin Flesh

Let the kiddos practice scooping out the flesh of an already baked pumpkin.  Then have them scoop theirs into a small cup and let them sprinkle some cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and brown sugar into the cup.  I would put the spices and sugar into salt/sugar dispensers for less mess.  Let them mix and try it.  Explain to them that this is what is used to make pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, etc.

STATION 4:  Writing about Pumpkins

Have these words written in large letters at this station:
  • pumpkin
  • cleaning
  • seeds
  • roasting
  • flesh
  • baking
Let the students write about and illustrate their favorite pumpkin station.  

STATION 5:  Graphing Pumpkins

Have a bar graph on chart paper with some pumpkin stickers.  Label the bottom of the graph (along the y axis, for you graphy types) with: Cleaning a Pumpkin, Roasting the Seeds, Baked Pumpkin, and Writing about Pumpkins.  Pre-write each child's name (Sharpies work best) on a pumpkin sticker.  Help them locate their sticker and use it to vote on their favorite part of the pumpkin process by placing their sticker above their favorite station name.  

This could be done at home with a group of friends for an easy and educational Halloween project.  It could be done over several days, one station a day, or as one long activity.

Here's a list of supplies you will need (based on a group of 20 kiddos):

  • 3-4 pumpkins with tops cut off (you could "borrow" these from friends or neighbors and return them after the kids have cleaned them out in station 1)
  • 3 cups raw pumpkin seeds
  • small dixie cups (2 for each child, for stations 2 and 3)
  • salt
  • expeller pressed safflower oil or olive oil
  • 3 cups previously roasted pumpkin seeds 
  • 3-4 baked pumpkins 
  • salt/sugar dispenser filled with brown sugar
  • cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or pumpkin pie spice
  • sentence strips with pumpkin words written in big, clear letters (your student's teacher probably has some you can ask to use)
  • pencils and paper for writing stations (or the students could use their science journals)
  • chart paper with a bar graph (again, you could probably get a piece from the teacher)
  • Pumpkin stickers, with student's names pre-written on them 
  • At least 5 adults (one for each station)

Have a great time and don't forget to bring home the extra pumpkin flesh for pumpkin bread!


  1. So glad you wrote all this down! I'm planning to incorporate as much as I can into my planning. I think its going to be great fun for the kids in the class too!!! You rock, Stacey!!!

  2. I'm going to do this for Kate's class too...lmk if you want to get supplies ready together.