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Counting On Pumpkin Seeds: A Preschool Math Lesson

written by: Tracey Bleakley • edited by: Jacqueline Chinappi • updated: 11/5/2013

When you clean out your pumpkin to make a jack-o-lantern, don't throw away the seeds! With a little preparation, they make great math counters. Use this fun pumpkin seed math lesson as a part of pumpkin or plant unit.

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    Counting on Pumpkin Seeds: Fall Time Math Lesson Prior Knowledge

    Students should be able to count to five. They also need to be introduced to simple addition problems.

    Materials Needed

    • Pumpkin Seeds (Collected from cleaning out a pumpkin to make a jack-o-lantern.)
    • Orange spray paint
    • Newspaper
    • Small paper cups
    • Paper and pencils
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    Counting Lesson Plan

    Use pumpkin seed counters to teach or review addition facts to five.

    Making the Counters

    After you clean the seeds out of a pumpkin, wash them and let them dry.

    When they are dry, spread them out on newspaper and spray paint one side orange. Let dry overnight.

    Once dry you will have a set two-color counters that can be used for many math activities.

    Teach

    Show the the students a how to write an addition sentence.

    You can write the frame "______ + _______ = _______" on the board and practice filling in the blanks to make addition problems.

    Procedure

    Explain to the class that you will be playing an addition game with pumpkin seeds.

    Give each pair of students five seed counters, a paper cup, pencils and paper.

    Show them how to put the seeds into the cup, shake it and spill the seeds out onto the table.

    They will then count how many orange seeds and how many white seeds there are and write an addition sentence in the paper. If they spill the seeds and 3 orange seeds and 2 white seeds are showing, the addition sentence would be "3 + 2 = 5."

    Have them play until each student has made five addition sentences.

    Assess

    Look at the addition sentences each student made. They should all add up to five. Did they write them correctly?

    Extend

    • This activity can be repeated with different numbers of seeds. You can also make it multilevel by giving different students more or fewer seeds, depending on their skills. Put different number of seeds into cups and place them in a math center, so that the student can continue to play the game and practice addition.

    • To teach students about even and odd numbers, show them how to group the seeds into pairs. Tell them that if there is a seed leftover, then it is an odd number. If all of the seeds have a partner, it is even. Put different numbers of seeds in cups at a center and have the students use the pairing up strategy to determine whether the number of seeds in each cup is even or odd.

    • For other math activities with pumpkins, try sorting, weighing and graphing them.

Pumpkins for Preschool

This is a series of articles about pumpkin activities and lessons for preschool students. You will find book links, math, science, art and cooking activities that will fit into a pumpkin theme for preschoolers.
  1. All About Pumpkins: A Preschool Theme
  2. Pumpkin Pumpkin: Preschool Activities to Go With the Book
  3. Counting On Pumpkin Seeds: A Preschool Math Lesson