Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom


Pumpkin Guts, from "About Pumpkins"

Will your jack-o-lantern sink or float? If it floats add various objects to see how much weight it will hold afloat.

Background and Vocabulary

Learning Activities

Pumpkin Reading Page: About Pumpkins - ELA, Grades 1-3

Students will read about pumpkins and then answer questions to show comprehension.

Smart Board: Pumpkin Facts and Opinions

Smart Board: Syllables

Smart Board: Pumpkin Vocabulary

Smart Board: Pumpkins True or False

Background and Vocabulary

The pumpkin is a vegetable, but most pumpkins grown today are sold for decorating and carving. They come in all sizes and shapes, from minipumpkins, the size of apples, to giant ones, weighing over 200 pounds. Some pumpkins are gray or pale green, but most are yellow or orange. Some are even white.

Pumpkin flowers are large and yellow. Some kinds of pumpkins are grown for cattle to eat. Cucumbers, squash, melons and gourds are all related to the great pumpkin.

The pumpkin is one of only a few foods we still eat today that is native to North America. American Indians used them as food and medicine. Dried pumpkin shells served as bowls or containers for storing grains and seeds. The Indians also flattened strips of pumpkins, dried them and made mats from them.

Pumpkins were a main part of the Pilgrims’ daily diet because they would keep for several months, if left uncut and stored in a cool, dry place.

Colonists made the first pumpkin pies by slicing off pumpkin tops, removing the seeds, filling the insides with milk, spices and honey, then baking it all in hot ashes.

The Pilgrims’ dependence on pumpkins is reflected in this poem, from 1630. (Notice the old English “undoon” for “undone.”)

For pottage and puddings and custards and pies,
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies,
We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon,
If it were not for pumpkins we should be undoon.

The pumpkin is a member of the cucurbit family. Some of the world’s largest fruits are pumpkins. Pumpkins range in size from less than a pound to over 1,000 pounds. According to Cucurbits, the official newsletter of the World Pumpkin Confederation, a 2005 record-breaking pumpkin weighed in at 1,469 pounds, and a giant squash tipped the scales at just over 962 pounds (436 kg).

The town of Roffstown, New Hampshire, holds an annual pumpkin regatta each October, in which giant pumpkins are hollowed out to make room for a single passenger, then fitted with trolling motors and paraded on the Piscataquog River.
The tradition of carving pumpkins at Halloween started with the Irish, but the original jack-o-lanterns were made from turnips. When the Irish immigrated to the U.S., they found pumpkins a plenty, and they were much easier to carve than turnips.

The tradition of carving pumpkins at Halloween started with the Irish, but the original jack-o-lanterns were made from turnips. When the Irish immigrated to the U.S., they found pumpkins a plenty, and they were much easier to carve than turnips.

Pumpkins by the Pound - Math, Grades 1-3

Students will use pumpkins to reinforce math skills such as estimation, counting, and measurement.

Power Point



Pumpkin Globes - Social Studies, Grades 1-2

Students will use pumpkins to create globes of the world.

Case of the Missing Pumpkin - Science, Grades 3, 5-6

Students will design and conduct an experiment to observe a pumpkin decomposing and record observations.

Smart Board: Pumpkin Life Cycle

Pumpkin Seed Art - Visual Art, Grades 1-3

Students will use pumpkin seeds to create art.


If you used these lessons, along with the "Fruits, Nuts, and Veggies, Oh My" booklet, please let us know by answering a few quick questions. Your class might be featured on the website as a result!


More Resources

Video: "How Does It Grow? Pumpkins" (PBS series)

Video: Pumpkins, Squash and Other Cucurbits, with Dora Fuqua, Canton

Pumpkin Facts

Pumpkin Pie in a Bag

YouTube video demonstration, with Zena Lewis, Owasso

Pumpkin Ham Soup

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (Pepitas)

Herbert Hoover and the The Great Pumpkin Wars

My uncle always raised a large quantity of pumpkins to feed the dairy cows. These would be brought in from the fields and piled in a pyramid, as much as twenty feet high by fifty feet, or more, long. We were allowed to do whatever we liked with all the pumpkins, as long as we cleaned up the debris at the end of the day and placed it in the troughs for the cows when they came home out of the woods at milking time. So we made "Jack-o-lanterns" of every sort our fancy could conceive, and arranged them by companies and battalions and brigades. Then we attacked them, foot and horse, with a corn-cutter, a weapon like a machete or a Circassion sword, and annihilated the whole army. There was no limit to the slaughter save from physical exhaustion with the rather hard chopping. It seems to me I had a companion in those battles, but his face is veiled to me now; it was probably Herbert Clark Hoover.

from Memoranda: Being a Statement by an Engineer, Theodore J. Hoover, 1939, The Hoover Blackboard, A Blog About Visiting the Hoover Library


Books about Pumpkins

Bauer, Joan, Squashed, Puffin, 2001. (Young Adult)

If only Ellie's potentially prize-winning pumpkin would gain 200 more pounds in time for the Rock River Pumpkin Weigh-In, and if only Ellie could lose 20 or so pounds herself, her life might be perfect. Well, at least it would be perfect enough to give her the courage to make friends with Wes - the cute new guy at school. She's well on her way to winning big on all counts when frost and pumpkin thieves begin to attack! The thing is, Ellie has the sass, humor, and smarts to be a winner - whether or not her pumpkin breaks the scales ... if only she would realize it.

Duke, Kate, Ready for Pumpkins, Alfred A. Knopf, 2012. (Grades K-2)

Hercules is a first-grade rodent, in a multilayered tale about time, the seasons and the long, impatient wait for a full-grown pumpkin to pick. When the teacher takes Herky to her country home for the summer, he discovers his horticultural side. Especially marvelous is what Herky’s accomplishment shows children: animals and plants have lives and life cycles of their own. (New York Times review)

Farmer, Jacqueline, Pumpkins, Charlesbridge, 2004. (Grades PreK-2 )

Facts, history, legend, and growing tips about one of the favorite fruits of fall. In addition to instructions on pumpkin carving (and safety) and seed toasting, the author includes the word for the berry in other languages, a brief list of pumpkin world records, and recommended readings and Web sites.

Gibbons, Gail, The Pumpkin Book, Live Oak, 2004. (Grades PreK-3)

Explains that pumpkins belong to the squash family, that there are different varieties, and that each has a different purpose. Provides a nice overview of how pumpkins are grown their history and uses. Also includes a few fun activities.

Levenson, George, and Shmuel Thaler, Pumpkin Circle: The Story of a Garden, Tricycle, 2002. (Grades PreK-1)

The development of a pumpkin seed into a plant, pumpkin, jack-o-lantern, and, completing the cycle, back to seed again.

McKy, Katie, and Pablo Bernasconi, Pumpkin Town! or, Nothing is Better and Worse Than Pumpkins, Sandpiper, 2008. (Grades PreK-2)

After five brothers accidentally spill seeds over a small town, they feel responsible when pumpkins and vines begin to overrun the houses the next year.

McNamara, Margaret, and G. Brian Karas, How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin?, Schwartz and Wade, 2007. (Grades PreK-2)

The story teaches math and science concepts while modeling kind behavior. The author introduces counting by twos, fives and tens and includes pumpkin facts, e.g., the more lines on the pumpkin, the more seeds it will have.

Pfeffer, Wendy, and James Graham Hale, From Seed to Pumpkin, Collins, 2004. (Grades PreK-2)

Accurately depicts germination, pumpkins growing and still green, pumpkins changing colors and uses for pumpkins.

Robbins, Ken, Pumpkins, Square Fish, 2007. (Grades PreK-3)

The author documents the life cycle of a pumpkin with close-up, naturalistic photos and clear, simple text. He discusses the wide variety of pumpkin colors and sizes. Basic instructions are included for carving a jack-o-lantern, with adult help suggested. The next year's crop, ensured by the pumpkins and their seeds left to rot in the field, is the focus of the last spread.

Smath, Jerry, I Like Pumpkins, Cartwheel, 2003. (Grades PreK-2)

Some pumpkins are tall; some pumpkins are squat. Some pumpkins are big; some pumpkins are not. A little girl tells her favorite things about pumpkins, like pumpkin masks, pumpkin seeds and pumpkin pie.

Poems about Pumpkins

When the Frost is on the Pumpkin, James Whitcomb Riley

Theme in Yellow, Carl Sandburg

Ag in Art

The Pumpkin, Bartolomeo Bimbi



Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom

Oklahoma Ag in the Classroom is a program of the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, 4-H Youth Development, the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry and the Oklahoma State Department of Education.