What I love most about these Halloween math activities is 1) that they DON’T feel “mathy” and 2) they give your child even MORE ways to enjoy Halloween!
All you need is a pumpkin–or, even better, two pumpkins of different sizes. Some of the activities use uncarved pumpkins, while others you can do after they’re carved.
I got a big pumpkin and a tiny one, and just for fun, I gave them names:
You don’t actually have to name your pumpkins…
But, you know, it’s kind of fun if you like to be goofy like that. And it’s helpful for asking questions like, “Do you think Perk would float in the bath? How about Petey?”
The following activities only take a few minutes but add another dimension to the Halloween experience. These mini math mysteries actually help your child feel curious and connected to her pumpkin, beyond just an orange blob to carve.
By asking a few key questions over the next couple of days, you’ll set the stage for your girl to estimate, predict, count, compare, calculate, measure, and more…all while having fun doing Halloween stuff!
MATH MYSTERY # 1: WILL THEY FLOAT OR SINK?
Will Perk and Petey sink or float when you put them in water?
Hold on–before you toss your pumpkins in the bathtub, predict what will happen. Will they both float? Both sink? Will Petey float because he’s smaller?
Make your guess–then head to the bathtub and see if you were correct!
(This one is more science than math, but we’re just getting started!)
MATH MYSTERY # 2: HOW BIG ARE THEY?
How do you measure a pumpkin?
Clearly Perk is taller, but how much taller? Will you measure in inches or centimeters? What’s the name of measuring top to bottom, or side to side?
If you’re using a measuring tape, do you curve with the pumpkin or not? Where do you put the ruler, and what do you do if the ruler is too small to go across the whole pumpkin?
Measuring is trickier than it looks, and pumpkins have funny shapes that make it even more difficult. The challenges lead to some good questions and a hands-on problem solving.
Subtraction is the math for comparing anything, and there’s lots of comparing going on. How close was your estimate to the actual height? How much taller is Perk than Petey?
This is a really fun investigation, since kids love to see how much bigger one pumpkin is than the other!
MATH MYSTERY # 3: HOW FAT IS YOUR PUMPKIN?
How fat is Perk? How fat is Petey? The distance around the widest part is called the circumference.
Kids like learning about circumference because it’s such a hard-sounding word. It’s a cool thing to know how to do–and say!
Plus it’s also fun to discover how fat your pumpkin is.
Unlike height and width, which were measured in a straight line, circumference is meant to cling tight to a curved surface, with no gaps.
You can’t do this with a straight-edge ruler, but you can take a piece of string and wrap it around the widest part of the pumpkin. Cut the string and measure it to find the circumference of your pumpkin!
MATH MYSTERY # 4: HOW MANY SEEDS?
How many seeds are in a big pumpkin? How many seeds are in a small pumpkin? What do you think?
Finally–the part they’ve been waiting for: carving their pumpkins! But first, she’ll predict how many seeds are inside.
Prediction and estimation can be stressful for some kids. They are used to math being about right and wrong, and they don’t want to be wrong.
But estimation is such an important skill for number sense, so I’m going to show you how to make it feel safe and fun, even for anxious kids.
- Talk about estimation as “a guess”. Tell her she can’t be wrong in a guess; it’s just a game to see how close she can get.
- You guess too. Have everyone in the family take a guess. Who got the closest?
- Give her a benchmark. Hold up your hands and say, “This is about 12 inches.”
- Have her make her first guess is before she cuts open the pumpkin. She can “revise her estimate” once she looks inside, and again once she has counted about half of the seeds. (She can’t revise her estimate after that, though!)
- When it’s time for her to compare her guess to the actual number, say, “Wow, that’s pretty close! Do you think it helped to revise your estimate? Why did it help?”
When she’s done with that Halloween math activity, she can take a snack break by roasting pumpkin seeds! (Recipe included.)
MATH MYSTERY # 5: BEFORE AND AFTER WEIGHT
She has just one final task–a quick one. With all the carving and cleaning out, Perk and Petey have lost a little weight!
How much weight did they lose? Who lost more weight? How much do they weigh now?
It’s up to your girl to find out how much Perk & Petey weigh after their diet!
A Final Word About The Perk & Petey Halloween Math Activity
The Perk & Petey Math Activity is PERFECT to do at home, and it’s so much fun!
If your child is a bit freaked out by math, you can play down the “math” part and simply call it “the pumpkin project”.
The printable is geared to grades 3-5, but younger kids will love doing these activities as well. You may just need to help a bit with some of the trickier math, or be the scribe to write down her answers.
What did you think of this pumpkin math activity? Leave a comment and let me know!