Pumpkin Investigations: Kindergartners Explore with All Their Senses

By Chrissy McLaughlin with the help of ChatGPT
October 17, 2023
students completing the pumpkin ingestigation

In Mrs. Norden's kindergarten class, a sense of excitement filled the air as students finally got the chance to bring back a beloved tradition: the Pumpkin Investigation. This long-awaited event was made possible with the help of parent volunteers, and it turned out to be an exciting and collaborative opportunity for the young learners.

As the children gathered around tables in small groups with their parent volunteers, they were eager to dive into the world of pumpkins. The objective of the day was clear - to use their senses to explore every aspect of these orange, autumn treasures. The kindergartners had a chart at their tables to fill out with their findings.

Our young scientists first explored touch and sight. Each group began by describing the outside of their pumpkins. How did they feel to the touch? Were they smooth, rough, or bumpy? They then smelled the pumpkin and knocked on it to see what sounds it made. This sensory exploration was not only a lesson in science but also an opportunity to develop their language skills.

The pumpkin investigation wasn't just about sensory experiences. It also involved some math magic! The kindergartners carefully examined the pumpkins and used their math skills to count how many lines it had. It was interesting to see the many ways students approached this. They counted by numbering, actually drawing the lines, or taking turns pointing and counting a section of the pumpkin. Our Kindergarten Mathematicians also used unit cubes to stack up to see how tall their pumpkins were. This activity allowed them to practice counting, measurement and number recognition while also enhancing their fine motor skills.

In a playful exercise, the children made guesses about the number of seeds hidden inside their pumpkins. These imaginative estimations ranged from a few to “401,400”, drawing laughter and excitement from the young investigators.

The most awaited moment of the investigation was when the children were allowed to get their hands inside the pumpkins to feel for the seeds. With enthusiasm and curiosity, they dug in, their faces lighting up as they touched the slimy, stringy interior. The excitement was palpable as they attempted to guess how many handfuls of seeds were inside their pumpkins.

The students didn't stop at estimation; they moved on to a more systematic approach to count the seeds. They scooped out the seeds and, with the help of their parent volunteers, counted them in groups of ten. This exercise was not only a lesson in counting but also a perfect introduction to multiples, as they figured out how many groups of tens they counted. 

The students absolutely loved this collaborative activity. They laughed, learned, and worked together as collaborators. The pumpkin investigation was not just a scientific exploration; it was an opportunity for them to develop essential life skills such as teamwork, communication, and problem-solving. This was an excellent introduction to some of the Portrait of a Graduate skill they will be learning throughout their educational career. 

The return of the Pumpkin Investigation brought excitement to Mrs. Norden's kindergarten class. It was a reminder that some traditions are timeless, and the joy of learning, especially through hands-on experiences, can never be replaced. As the kindergartners wrapped up their pumpkin investigation, they left with not only a deeper understanding of pumpkins but also cherished memories of collaboration and discovery.