Pumpkin Science: States of Matter

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I love fall!  After a looooong and HOT Texas summer, fall is so refreshing.  The crisp and cool morning air (before it warms up) just makes me want to be outside and enjoy the season.  I love connecting the seasons to our lessons too!  What’s better for fall than some fun, hands-on pumpkin science!

Teaching about States of Matter using Pumpkins is a great fall pumpkin science activity

There are so many fun pumpkin activities you can do in the fall. But teaching states of matter with pumpkins wasn’t something I had seen before. But since that was our current science topic I set out to see what I could come up with. What happened next was some fun and yummy pumpkin science!

Making Observations

Like any good scientist, we started with making observations. We observed both the outside of the pumpkin and the inside. We talked about our observations and the fact that a pumpkin is a solid. Then we documented out observations in our science journal.

making observations is the first step in pumpkin science

The kids LOVED seeing the inside of the pumpkin! But we couldn’t just stop with looking at the pumpkin. It was time to get a little dirty! One of the favorite activities was cleaning out the inside of the pumpkin!

pumpkin science the inside of the pumpkin

We started making observations on the look and feel of the inside of the pumpkin. Then we got busy cleaning out all the seeds and the fibrous strands. It was important to get everything out so we could get to the pulp or fruit of the pumpkin for our states of matter activity.

Learning Pumpkin Vocabulary

real photo pumpkin vocabulary cards help students learn pumpkin terms

Throughout our activity, and our entire pumpkin unit, we used these real photo Pumpkin Vocabulary Cards. The students really loved seeing how the photos and their “real life” pumpkins were the same.

The pumpkin vocabulary cards help students learn the real names for the parts of the pumpkin. They also help us as we add diagrams, labels and writing to our science journals. They are my FAVORITE learning tool for pumpkins.

This resource also includes arrows and all the vocabulary cards you need to create your own Pumpkin Lifecycle anchor chart too! Everything we need, and more, is here to teach pumpkins and their vocabulary.

Pumpkin as a Solid

pumpkin in crock pot so we can add heat and change the state of matter

Once we had the pumpkins cleaned out we started scooping out the pulp (the fruit) of the pumpkin. We talked about the characteristics of a solid and then determined that it its natural state a pumpkin is a solid.

Then I asked the class what would happen if we added heat to the pumpkin. This question was connected to our lesson the day before where we learned that adding heat is one way to change the state of matter. Some students shared what they thought would happen, then they added their hypothesis to their science journals.

Most of the pumpkin fruit made its way into a crockpot since we had previously learned that adding heat is one way to change the state of matter. However, we saved a little part of the pumpkin for our end of the day taste test.

Then we put lid on the lid on the crockpot and let it cook all day! After a couple hours we made some observations. We talked about the aroma that was filling our classroom and we took a peek under the lid too! We noticed a change in color in addition to the smell. We added the observations to our science journals.

Comparing States of Matter

At the end of the day it was time to unveil our heated pumpkin. We started by looking at the solid pieces we saved. We noticed how they were still the same shape as in the morning. We put some pieces on a spoon and noticed that they didn’t take on the shape of the spoon. They were still a solid.

pumpkin as a liquid and comparing to solid state of matter

Then we took the lid off the crockpot and made some observations. What was inside no longer looked like the pumpkin we started with. The shape of the pieces we put in had changed. I scooped up some heated pumpkin and we talked about how the pumpkin took on the shape of the spoon. I slowly tilted the spoon and we noticed how the heated pumpkin oozed into the crockpot like a liquid. We concluded that heat had changed the pumpkin from a solid to a liquid. Of course, our new observations and the conclusion went into the science journal.

The Taste Test

What better way to end a pumpkin science lab then with a taste test. We started off by tasting the pumpkin in a solid state. I gave each student a small piece of pumpkin to try. Each student also had a napkin so that if they did not like it they could spit it out without needing to run to the trash can.

small pieces of pumpkin for our taste test eating pumpkin as a solid

After trying the solid pumpkin we took a little vote to see the consensus. Students gave a thumbs up or a thumbs down to show what they thought. Not too many thumbs up for the solid pumpkin.

Then we moved on to trying the liquid pumpkin. I put a small amount of liquid pumpkin in a dixie cup and we gave it a try. A few more students added a thumbs up here.

pumpkin taste test

Then we talked about some of our favorite pumpkin treats. Pumpkin pie was mentioned again and again so we talked about how it tasked different.

We decided to see if we could turn our liquid pumpkin into something just as delicious. We added a little cinnamon and brown sugar, gave it a stir and were ready to try our final concoction. I served up a little pumpkin on a graham cracker for our final taste test. Thumbs up all around! Almost everyone liked our pumpkin creation.

This was a fun and hands-on way for students to see the process of heat changing the state of matter. The kids talked about this activity for months and I even had a mom ask for our pumpkin recipe!

More Pumpkin Activities

Pumpkins and Reading

In addition to our pumpkin science lab on the states of matter we also had more pumpkin fun in the classroom. We started our pumpkin unit with this Pumpkin Emergent Science Reader.

pumpkin science emergent reader for primary grades

The kids loved learning about pumpkins but more importantly they loved being able to read the book too! Using a combination of sight words and vocabulary the Pumpkin Science reader is perfect for the primary grades.

Pumpkin Measurement

We also had some fun with non-standard units of measurement and pumpkins. We practiced measuring our pumpkins with blocks, plastic links, our hands, our feet and more. We used this Pumpkin P.I. activity from Teaching Dragons as our starting point. It was so much fun I didn’t even get a picture!

Pumpkin Writing

pumpkin life cycle writing activity

Any time I can connect our learning to writing I do! I want to help students learn to get those thoughts in their head down on paper – a skill that doesn’t always come easy.

Since we learned about the Pumpkin Life Cycle using the vocabulary cards, we were ready for some writing. By using the vocabulary cards like an anchor chart we were able to draw out the pumpkin lifecycle. Then using our drawings we were able to add words and write.

This Pumpkin Life Cycle writing, along with 2 other pumpkin themed writing activities can only be found in the Pumpkin Bundle in the Teaching in Blue Jeans store. In the bundle you get the Pumpkin Vocabulary Cards, the Emergent Reader and 3 pumpkin themed writing activities all for less than the price of a pumpkin latte.

pumpkin vocabulary cards, emergent reader and writing activities in one bundle pack

Save these Pumpkin Science Ideas

Not quite ready for pumpkin science – no problem! Just save this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can come back quickly when you are. Your students will love learning about states of matter with pumpkins!

Teaching about States of Matter using Pumpkins is a great fall pumpkin science activity

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