I teach a unit on the Pumpkin Life Cycle during the month of October in my typically developing Kindergarten class. This year I have 23 students in my class, one of whom is visually impaired, one who is on the Autism Spectrum, one ELL student and one who is on an IEP for speech and language support.
Pete the Cat: Five Little Pumpkins by James Dean
How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? by Margaret McNamara
The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams
Goodnight Pumpkin by Sharlene Alexander
Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden by George Levenson
The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons
Social Skills/Concept Development
- How the ride feels (bumpy on the field, smooth on the road).
- Sounds we may hear (other cars, birds).
- When we have the window open in a car we feel wind. Discuss why we don’t feel wind (we are moving too slowly).
- How do you feel when you are behind Mr. Marini’s tractor when you are late for soccer?
- How do you feel now that there are cars behind us and we are having fun on the tractor?
- How is a “patch” different from an orchard?
- How do the pumpkins grow?
- What do you remember about The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons?
- Is there anything that surprised you?
Experience and Experience Book
Sing Repetitive Songs
- After reading the book, we will discuss how our trip to Marini Farms is different than Pete the Cat’s trip to the pumpkin patch.
- How were the two trips the same?
- Remind students as we have class discussion to have respectful listening.
Reading and Pre-Reading
Students listen to the stories Goodnight Pumpkin and Goodnight Moon.
- Discuss: How are they the same? How are they different?
- Begin to discuss a Venn diagram. I use Venn diagrams often to illustrate comparisons. I will adapt this by using hula-hoops. I will have a story box for each book.
- I have a large dollhouse with an entire tub full of manipulatives to go with the dollhouse. I think I will be able to pull from the toy box everything I need to make story boxes quick and easy all year.
- I will put the hula hoops on the floor intersecting them to make a Venn diagram.
- Students will go to the story box to pull a toy out and place it in the hula hoop Venn diagram.
- Rhyming is a very important Kindergarten pre-reading skill. It teaches sound discrimination and word families. As I read the story There Was an Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything, discuss rhyming words. Brainstorm other rhyming words.
- Compare There Was an Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything and There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly. Again discuss how they are the same and how they are different.
Writing – Word Work
- Words we will focus on (direct teach): pumpkin, seed, sprout, vine, soil, water, sunlight, pumpkin patch, bigger, smaller, heavy, heavier, weight, compare, same, different, decompose (a favorite in my class)
- We will create the experience book together.
- Students will add to their science journal.
- Students will add a page to their “Black Journal”. (I love black journals. Our PTA purchases hard cover thick journals for each student. They make 8-10 entries in the journal. I then pass the journal to their first grade teacher who passes it on to the second grade teacher, etc. They can keep their journals after fifth grade graduation. It is a wonderful keepsake.)
- I have modified the vocabulary cards, so they are accessible to every student. The seed has an actual seed glued on the picture of the seed. Soil has soil glued on. For the flower, wilted flower, stem and pumpkin, I have chosen to use foam shapes so I do not have to worry about the pages rotting. I will use coarse sand paper to modify the stem to simulate the prickles.
Math: Counting Pumpkin Seeds
- This is a wonderful book about a teacher that helps his students determine how many seeds in a pumpkin.
- It teaches students to feel the ridges on the outside of the pumpkin and tells them that there are pumpkin seeds on each ridge. There are other ways to “predict” which pumpkin may have more or less seeds.
- Then, I cut the top off the pumpkin. We discuss how the pumpkin smells, etc.
- Students then take turns pulling the seeds out of the pumpkin. We discuss pulp and how it smells, feels, and we try to brainstorm vocabulary words to describe the inside of the pumpkin. We also compare the inside and outside of the pumpkin.
- I have 3 large paper pumpkins on the floor. (We do most lessons on the floor in a circle.) Each paper pumpkin is labeled: ones, tens, hundreds). I give each child small paper cups. Ten seeds are put in each small cup and placed on the "ones" pumpkin.
- When all the pumpkin seeds have been placed in cups we move the “tens” cups to the tens pumpkin.
- Then we count by tens to 100 and empty ten small cups into a larger cup and placed on the hundred pumpkin.
- After counting all the pumpkin seeds, we look at our predictions again, comparing who was the closest, etc.
Science: Pumpkin Life Cycle
- I begin the lesson by reading the nonfiction book The Pumpkin Life Cycle. This is a very easy high interest book that students really enjoy.
- I have modified the book so it will be accessible to all my students. I actually glued seeds on the seed page (soil on the soil page, I used a glove to show the glove / hand in the book, foam shapes for stem with rough edges for the vines, curly pipe cleaners on the “tendrils”. I have used puffy paint on the pumpkins. I used globs of glue to try to produce the decomposing pumpkin) etc
- I have a second modified book that my student who is visually impaired can hold while I read to the class.
- After reading the book we discuss what a pumpkin needs to grow. We then experiment!
- Each student plants a pumpkin seed in a clear plastic cup so we can see the roots, etc.
- We journal and discuss daily.
- We also do my favorite year long experiment! This is my favorite! I use two clear plastic tubs with covers. We bury in soil a pumpkin we picked from our field trip. We water the pumpkin, put the cover on tight and put up high in a window with a lot of sun.
- We take another pumpkin about the same size and remove the seeds. (I usually bring them home and roast them for another lesson the next day.) We bury the pumpkin in the other tub. We put the cover on and place next to the pumpkin in the window.
- Every week we take the pumpkins down. We discuss how they look – it has changed shape, decomposing – favorite word – then we take the cover off and touch it – smell it (stinks!) etc.
- We journal in our science journal
- In the spring, we see that our pumpkin has sprouted etc. The pumpkin with no seeds didn’t. Why not?
Common Core Standards
The following Common Core State Standards (CCSS) will be addressed in this unit:
English Language Arts & Math Common Core Standards:
- R1.K.1 With prompting and support, describe the connection between pieces of information in a text.
- R1.K.2a Recognize and produce rhyming words
- W.K.3 Use a combination of drawing, dictating, and writing to narrate a single event or several events, tell about the events in the order in which they occurred (In this case the life cycle of the pumpkin).
- SL.K.1/SL.K2 Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about kindergarten topics & confirm understanding of information presented orally or through other media (in this case re-telling the story of the pumpkin life cycle).
- K.CC.4 Understand the relationship between numbers and quantities; counting to cardinality.
- K.MD.1 Describe measurable attributes of objects, such as length or weight. Describe several measurable attributes of a single object (In this case the amount of pumpkin pulp/seeds/circumference).
- K. CC.C.6 Identify whether the number of objects in one group is greater than, less than, or equal to the number of objects in another group.
- K.CC. 1 Count to 100 by ones and tens. (counting pumpkin seeds)