Pumpkins, Seeds, Estimation, and a Book

How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?, written by Margaret McNamara and illustrated by G. Brian Karas, is a perfect book to share with students. It combines science, math, a seasonal activity, and a boost of self-esteem for the smallest boy in the class.

Mr. Tiffin, a very clever teacher, brings three pumpkins to class – small, medium, and large. “How many seeds in a pumpkin?” he asks. It’s a brilliant way to motivate students and introduce estimation. The students take a guess, and then Mr. Tiffin has them cut open the pumpkins to see how many seeds are in each. He uses another math tie-in when he asks how they should count the seeds. Mr. Tiffin elicits answers from the students, who decide to count by twos, fives, and tens. Each group calculates how many seeds are in their pumpkin. The smallest boy in the class finds the smallest pumpkin has the most. This leads into a mini science lesson in which the students compare the three pumpkins. They discover the smallest pumpkin is darker orange and has more lines on the outside than the other two. Mr. Tiffin explains that for each line on the outside of a pumpkin there is a row of seeds on the inside. The longer the pumpkin grows, the darker it gets and the more lines it gets. Proud that his pumpkin has the most seeds, the smallest boy in the class tells Mr. Tiffin that “small things have a lot going on inside them.”

This book fits right into the fall season and lends itself to a variety of ways to engage students in new learning experiences that that are fun and easy to do.

How many seeds does your pumpkin have?

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