I recently wrote a blog post about teaching the Apple Life Cycle. I typically teach an apple unit during September and when October rolls around, we switch to Pumpkins! So let’s discuss Pumpkin Life Cycle Activities! It is a great topic for instruction during the month of October and allows for cross-curricular integration. With students already learning about the Apple Life Cycle, this topic will be easier for them to grasp. They will be building on their prior knowledge and developing an understanding of a new
1. Gather all prior knowledge.
Initially, I recommend starting with a KWL chart! As you likely already know, a KWL chart is a simple way to find out what your students already know about a topic and what they want to learn. It is always important for students to access their own schema/prior knowledge and set intentions for the topic. With pumpkins, your students’ knowledge will vary greatly. Who knows what they will or will not know! *Don’t forget to revisit this chart at the end of your unit in order to record what you’ve learned.
The anchor chart labels are actually part of a fall freebie. To grab your own, sign up here: Freebie Link
2. Teach vocabulary explicitly.
After your KWL discussion, it is time to start learning with Pumpkin Life Cycle activities! As I mentioned previously, it is helpful to start with topic vocabulary. I recommend pre-teaching vocabulary when working with technical or scientific topics. This can make the texts more accessible to students. Give the students some time to learn the parts of a pumpkin and the words associated with it. Create an anchor chart to show a diagram of the pumpkin. Be sure to label each part and give students opportunities to work with that anchor chart! Using a vocabulary or labeling activity will help your students master these vocabulary terms and they will be ready to move on to technical reading!
3. Gather up pumpkin science books!
Be sure to have a collection of pumpkin mentor texts for your unit. You can use these as read alouds in your lessons or they can be used as student books to be read during independent and partner reading times. You can even assign topic-specific activities with the books, like vocabulary scavenger hunts, search and say prompts, and more! As students gain more exposure to content, they are able to turn current information into long-term stored knowledge. Here are several great books that can build upon your teaching of the pumpkin life cycle.
- Fall Pumpkins, Orange and Plump
- Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin, Pie!
- From Seed to Pumpkin
- Let’s Look at Pumpkins
- Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden
4. Choral Reading Content and Teaching Note-Taking Skills
This unit is a great opportunity to introduce note-taking to your younger students! Use shared passages to do repeated choral readings. You want to choose texts that are accessible for most of your students so that you can read them aloud, together. During choral readings, model strong note-taking. Stop and take notes about important parts of the text. You can do this on an anchor chart at first. Then, allow students to continue their note-taking on their own. After a few choral readings, Gather together and have the students share their important notes. Create a class anchor chart, where you or the students can record information that you’ve learned!
5. Use Directed Drawings to Help Deepen Understanding
Another fun pumpkin life cycle activity is a directed drawing. Students will likely see several diagrams throughout their exploration of pumpkin materials. These are going to be essential to understanding the life cycle of a pumpkin. A directed drawing will be a fun way for students to learn about the pumpkin life cycle, while drawing one of their own. Students love directed drawings! They don’t feel like learning, but can effectively support their understanding of a topic or concept. In this case, drawing the stages of a pumpkin’s life cycle will help them learn how a pumpkin transforms from a seed to an adult pumpkin!
With a drawing like this one, that has several smaller drawings within it, I suggest some prep before you start. Have your students put a dot on 6 spaces, somewhat equidistant around the edge of the page. This will allow them enough room to draw each of the parts. Then, start with the seed. Direct your students on how to draw the seed. Have a class discussion during this time. “What is a seed? How do they work? What do we do with them? What do they need to grow?” etc. Then, proceed to follow this process until the drawing is complete (draw, discuss, draw, discuss). This can be done in one sitting or over a few days! It’s up to you!
6. Practice Oral Presentation Skills to Reteach
Finally, any time a student activity can be turned into a teaching opportunity, students will grow! Have students use their directed drawings, or create a digital presentation, to share information with others. You can have small groups of 3 or 4 students present to the class. You can invite another class to come and learn from your students. Or, you could even have your students record their presentations and post them to your shared class feed so that their families can see (Class Dojo or similar).
Pumpkin Life Cycle Activities That Your Students Will Love
If you are looking for great additions to your Pumpkin Life Cycle instruction, check out the activities below! With two science/reading flipbooks and a complete Fall Life Cycles No Prep Pack, you will have everything you need to teach your Pumpkin Life Cycle unit! All three resources come with both printable and digital versions, too!