I’ll admit it- I’m one of those people who loves fall. I just got home from Trader Joe’s, and it was like a pumpkin spice bomb exploded in that place… and I couldn’t have been happier. Now I’m writing this between bites of apple cider donuts dipped in pumpkin spice coffee. Heavenly!
Late fall was always my favorite time of year in the classroom, too. By the time October rolls around, you’ve gotten to know your students, established your routines, and you’re gearing up for the holidays. My teammates and I used to celebrate the end of October with Pumpkin Day in first grade.
Each teacher in our grade level planned a pumpkin-themed activity centered around reading, writing, science, math, or art (the size of my grade-level team fluctuated from 2-4 classes over the years). Our students rotated to each classroom to engage in the activities. I loved this because it meant I only needed to plan one lesson, rather than multiple stations within my own classroom!
Pumpkin Day is the perfect time to invite parent volunteers into your room. Our parents would direct students to each classroom, assist with hands-on activities, and one year we even had an extra “snack” station supplied and operated by our volunteers 🙂
There are so many options for Pumpkin Day activities- deciding what to do can be a little overwhelming! I’ve gathered some of my favorite activities to help you plan:
Our Pumpkin Day celebrations always included a read aloud. There are loads of pumpkin-themed books available, but two of the best (in my opinion) are The Ugly Pumpkin by Dave Horowitz and Spookley the Square Pumpkin by Joe Troiano.
Both of these stories teach the theme that it’s ok to be different from your peers! The Ugly Pumpkin tells the sweet story of an unfortunate pumpkin who struggles to find where he belongs. Spookley the Square Pumpkin teaches us that being different has its advantages. You can’t go wrong with either story!
There are free response activities available for both of these books, such as this handout that has students draw friends for The Ugly Pumpkin:
I really love The Ugly Pumpkin because it’s not just a Halloween tale; there’s a fun Thanksgiving twist at the end which makes it a great read aloud for October OR November (hint: He’s not really a pumpkin…)! I liked reading it on Pumpkin Day (usually on Halloween) and continuing the fun during the first few days of November.
I’ve spent enough time around first graders to know most of them are all about crafts. With a bit of prep (and maybe a few extra hands in the form of parent volunteers), your students can make this free Parts of a Pumpkin Craft by A Sunny Day in First Grade.
If you choose to read The Ugly Pumpkin, these simple crafts require minimal prep and make adorable bulletin boards:
3. Science and Math
Depending on the number of classrooms participating in Pumpkin Day, we usually did a science and/or math station. If you can buy a few pumpkins or squash (or ask for donations), there are great hands-on activities you can do! This free handout has students measure pumpkins using unifix cubes and predict whether pumpkins will float or sink:
If you read The Ugly Pumpkin at the literacy station, you might want to do some squash- themed activities. There are lots of squash and pumpkin science & math resources available in this book companion for The Ugly Pumpkin:
There are so many ways to make Pumpkin Day one of the best days of the year in your classroom. If it’s not possible to rotate to different teachers, these activities can easily be used as centers within your own room. Please share your additional ideas in the comments, and have a great October!