Get ready to seriously dig into the fall season with this autumnal unit study! We’ll take a closer look at the life cycle of pumpkins, practice measuring weight and reading sight words, bake up some delicious fall treats, and so much more. Want to track your progress? Click here to download our tracking document.
Note: Occasionally we include project upgrades (for children ready for more of a challenge). We’ll mark those with the plus (+) symbol.
What you need:
Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):
- From Seed to Plant by Gail Gibbons (or read it on OpenLibrary here)
- From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer (or read it on OpenLibrary here)
- Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White (or read it on OpenLibrary here)
Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):
- paper + access to a printer (don’t have one? we like this model)
- laminator + laminator sheets (optional, but recommended for repeating lessons)
- moveable alphabet (optional, but recommended for children who are not writing comfortably with a pencil)
- a hanger
- plastic cups or small baskets
- 4 mini pumpkins (get them from a local grocery store or pumpkin patch)
- popsicle sticks
- pumpkin seeds (or use the ones from a real pumpkin)
- ingredients from this recipe
- white crayon
- washable orange marker
- orange felt
- yarn needle (or real sewing needle for older child—we like this small kit!)
- hole punch (optional)
- 2-4 pine cones
- peanut butter (or nut butter of your choice)
- bird seed
- construction paper
- dried black beans
- mounting putty
- 2-3 raw carrots
- small glass jars or clear cups
- Base 10 blocks
What to do:
We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!
Start the week by reading From Seed to Plant. Talk to your child about how the food on their plate took a lot of time and effort to get there, even before we brought it home from the market. But just how does a fruit become a fruit? Today’s lessons will focus on the life cycle of a seed. This short video explains it in a very simple way.
Activity 1: Let’s start by reviewing the pumpkin life cycle. Download the printable on this post. The printable has many activities in it, but you only need to print pages 3 and 4 for this activity. (You can also print pages 40-43 for the next activity.) Let your child cut and paste the pumpkin life stages as you review the cycle.
Activity 2: Next, let’s do some literacy and spelling work with the nomenclature cards you also printed from the printable in activity one. Read each word together breaking down the sounds in each word. Using a moveable alphabet or a lined paper and a pencil, have your child practice writing as many of the words as they are interested in trying.
Activity 3: Let’s end the day with some math with this fun “how heavy is a pumpkin?” activity. (If you don’t want to build the pipe structure, you can also hang your scale off the back of a chair.)
Today is all about pumpkins! Start by reading From Seed to Pumpkin.
Activity 1: Pumpkin spelling puzzles.
Activity 2: We’re going to work on what might be a new skill for your child—place values! Print this place value card. Laminate it for future use. You can either create a pumpkin manipulative to learn how to make a group of ten,or you can use the Base 10 Blocks.
The goal of this project is to teach place value in a tangible way. Refer to the individual pumpkin seeds (or blocks) as “a unit” and the sticks of ten seeds (or bars) as a “10-bar”. For this activity, first build nine 10-bars. Do this by pasting 10 seeds onto one craft stick. As you are building your 10-bar, count the individual units so that the child sees that 10 units (seeds) make one 10-bar. You are now ready to start building two digit numbers.
Begin the lesson by identifying each place value. You can say, “All the single pumpkin seeds are called units and they go in this column. (the ones column) Can you find 4 units?” Allow your child to count the seeds and put them on the mat under the last square. Count them out loud. If they give you anything other than four, repeat your request again. Say this is three units. Can you give me four units?” Once they have given you the correct amount write the number value in the last box. Next say, “Can I have 6 10-bars?” Follow the same method as you did for units until the child is able to get the correct amount of bars. Continue requesting items and building numbers. Once you are confident that your child understands this concept, move on to writing a number in the squares and asking them to find the units and 10-bars that represent that number.
Want more help with teaching place values? Don’t miss our video demonstrating how to introduce this skill.
Activity 3: Ready for a sweet treat? Make these pumpkin chocolate chip oatmeal bars for a delicious breakfast that tastes like dessert. As you cook, look for options to talk about fractions (as you measure ingredients) and let your child do as much of the pouring and mixing as possible.
Let’s read Too Many Pumpkins before tackling these pumpkin activities.
Activity 1: Pumpkin teen number puzzles. These simple puzzles provide a tactile way for your child make connections about the different ways a number can be shown. We also recommend incorporating snap blocks or these next level manipulatives after they put the puzzle together to help make this abstract idea more concrete.
Activity 2: “Magic” pumpkin sight words. This simple activity will wow your child as they work through sight words! Using a white crayon, write a word that your child is working on in each of the pumpkins. (Need some ideas? Think of words that your child likely sees in books often, like “the,” “of,” “have,” “how,” “why,” “said,” etc.) Then give them an orange marker to fill in each pumpkin. When the word is revealed, work on identifying it. Then repeat until all of the pumpkins are filled in.
Activity 3: Get some fine motor skill work in with this simple pumpkin sewing activity.
(+) Ready for an upgrade? Let your child sew with a real needle and thread. If you purchased the sewing kit we recommended, they can also practice sewing on a button.
Today, we’ll do a few activities using pine cones. Try to collect a few in your neighborhood if possible, otherwise you can order some from the link in the supply list.
Activity 1: Pine Cone Bird Feeder. We love this simple craft to make use of the pine cones that you are likely seeing around your neighborhood (and to provide a fun treat for the local birds).
Activity 2: Carrot Sight Words. Root vegetables are another popular fall harvest crop—including carrots! Use this “digging” for sight words activity to reinforce the sight words you worked on yesterday or introduce a few new ones.
Activity 3: Pine Cone Weather Station. Did you know that pine cones actually know the weather before you do? This simple project shows how pine cones adapt for survival. (Use the mounting putty to hold your pine cones in place on the window sill.)
Activity 1: Let’s grow some vegetables of our own! You’d be surprised how many plants you can grow from cuttings of the vegetables. Here’s how to start a windowsill garden with some carrot cuttings.
(+) Ready for an upgrade? Here are more vegetables you can add to your cutting garden.
Activity 2: For our art lesson today, we’re going to take a closer look at Guiseppe Arcimboldo. Guiseppe was an Italian painter best known for creating imaginative portrait heads made entirely of such objects as fruits, vegetables, flowers, fish, and books. You can read more of his biography here, but here are a few key facts to share with your child:
- Arcimboldo was originally commissioned to create stained glass art for several churches.
- In 1562, he became court portraitist to Ferdinand I at the Habsburg court in Vienna, and later, to Maximilian II and his son Rudolf II at the court in Prague. He was also the court decorator and costume designer.
- Arcimboldo created most of his portraits during a time period called the Renaissance. At this time, people were fascinated with riddles, puzzles, and the bizarre, so many art critics feel he created these portraits to fit into that style.
Today, we’ll focus on one of his series of self-portraits. He created four in the series and called them “The Four Seasons.” Click here to view his “Autumn” painting. How many items can your child spot in the painting? If they were going to make a self-portrait out of vegetables and fruits, which would they use for their eyes, nose, and mouth?
Finally, let’s do some painting with vegetables using this tutorial as inspiration.
Activity 3: Fall harvest I Spy.
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