Pumpkins for All: A Math Challenge

Published October 5, 2017
Subject: Culinary, English, Math, Science
Season: Summer, Fall
Place of Learning: Cooking Classrooms, Cafeteria, Academic Classroom
Resource Type: Lessons
Grade Level: Grade 2 , Grade 3
Uploaded by:
Zohar Gitlis

In this lesson, students will learn about pumpkins. They will find out how they grow and how many pumpkins are used to feed a school using a recipe.


Students will:

  • Have a fuller understanding of pumpkins and their uses.
  • Learn about the amount of food needed to feed a school.
  • Learn more about where food for schools come from.
  • Handout with recipe & questions (enough for every student)
  • Spring scale
  • 1 cooked pumpkin (record weight of pumpkin before cooking)
  • 1 raw pumpkin for every group of 4-6 students
  • From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer
  1. Have the students sit comfortably on the ground. Read From Seed to Pumpkin by Wendy Pfeffer by asking for student volunteers, going around the circle to each read a page, or reading to the students.
  2. Following the reading, ask students if they know where pumpkins come from. Ask if students have an idea of how many pumpkins it takes to feed the entire school.
  3. Have students sit back in their seats and read the recipe with them. As a group, add 50 portions to 50 portions to eventually get to 400 portions. They should see that it takes 8 times the one recipe to get enough portions.
  4. Using this number, ask students if they know how many pounds of cooked pumpkins they will need. If no one knows, add 2 pounds to itself for as many pumpkins as there are so they can see that they will need 16 cooked pounds.
  5. Give each group of ~4-6 students a raw pumpkin. Ask the group to guess how many pounds their pumpkin is and record this answer.
  6. In each group, weigh the the raw pumpkin. Have students record this number and find the difference between their guess and the real weight.
  7. Once all groups have weighed their pumpkin, ask them how many of their guesses were more/less than the actual weight. Ask them their differences to check their subtraction skills.
  8. Now, ask students if they know how to cook with a pumpkin. Ideally, they talk about needing to take all the "mush" and seeds out. They may say you need to cut the pumpkin. Try to get them to say that it needs to be cooked. Once they realize that a pumpkin needs to be cooked, show the students the cooked pumpkin.
  9. Ask for guesses of the weight of the cooked pumpkin. See if they can guess that it will be less than the raw pumpkin. Weigh the cooked pumpkin, and have the students write down the answer. (Tell them the weight of the pumpkin before it was cooked.) Using these two numbers, have the students find the difference in weight.
  10. All students should now have the details they need.
  11. Either as a class or within groups, figure out how many pumpkins are needed to feed the whole school if 400 portions are needed. Students can figure out the number of pumpkins, weight of cooked pumpkins, and weight of raw pumpkins needed.
  12. If done in groups, have the students regroup as a class and go over their answers. 
  13. Ask students what they learned about pumpkins today or if they found something really interesting. Be sure to answer any questions before closing.

Attached are two handouts: one with fractions and one without. For younger students, the math is easier to do without fractions. However, if you plan to make pumpkin bars, use the recipe with fractions for pumpkins! (Otherwise the recipe will be off!!)

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