The fall season is the perfect time to incorporate pumpkins into your curriculum. But, you may be wondering how to incorporate them into your STEM challenges. It's easy to modify building challenges to include pumpkins so your students can celebrate the fall season with fun and engaging pumpkin STEM challenges. Two of my favorite ways to use pumpkins in my STEM challenges during the fall season are with Lego and recyclable materials. I am so excited to share with you these awesome pumpkin STEM challenges your students are sure to love completing this fall!
Supplies and Materials Needed
One of my favorite things about STEM challenges is they don't require you to go out and buy a ton of new supplies for your students to use. Half of the challenge includes using things you already have on hand such as recyclable materials or interlocking blocks like Legos.
Easy to find supplies could include:
- Toilet paper or paper towel rolls
- Popsicle sticks
- Wooden or plastic blocks
- Empty tissue boxes
- Shoe Boxes
- Old pencils or dried up markers
- Milk cartons from the cafeteria
- Foam balls
Don't be afraid to reach out to your parents and ask for some of these supplies to be sent in with students before you start your challenges.
5 Little Pumpkins STEM Challenge
Literacy and STEM
This challenge is one of my favorites because it gives me a chance to bring some literacy into our challenge. I love to pair this pumpkin STEM challenge with the book 5 Little Pumpkins by Ben Mantle.
I also love showing the YouTube video 5 Little Pumpkins Sitting on a Gate projected on my whiteboard as an introduction to the STEM challenge my students will be working on.
Building, Balance, and Fine Motor Skills
The goal of this pumpkin STEM challenge is for students to incorporate building, balance, and fine motor skills to create a gate that can hold 5 “pumpkins”. This challenge can be completed as a whole group or used as a fun fall center activity.
With helpful task cards, my students are able to work independently or collaboratively to build a gate using our recyclable materials that can hold at least 5 pumpkins. The pumpkins can be plastic pumpkins from the discount store or even orange pom-poms.
I generally give my students at least 15 minutes to build their gates and 10 minutes to fill out the response sheet at the end of class.
I also think it's really important for students to have the opportunity to see what their classmates have built and take a few minutes to discuss with each other what worked and what challenges they faced while creating their gates. It's a great opportunity for them to learn from one another.
I also love providing certificates of completion to each of my students after they have completed their pumpkin STEM challenges. It helps to promote a positive atmosphere and foster an environment of creativity in the classroom.
Certificates are also tangible items students can take home to show their families. Sometimes it can be frustrating for students when they create an awesome STEM challenge, but can't take it home. Sending a certificate of completion helps students feel proud of their accomplishments and encourages them to discuss the activity with their families.
Jack-O-Lantern STEM Challenge
This STEM challenge is awesome because it really challenges students to think creatively about how to create something sphericle out of angular objects. Students will have to use a lot of creative thinking skills to successfully complete this challenge.
Integrating Other Subjects
One of my favorite things about this jack-o-lantern STEM challenge is how I am able to integrate other subject areas into the process. Not only are students focusing on building, but they are also going to be using math to create symmetrical faces or patterns.
By asking students to give their jack-o-lantern an emotion, students are focusing on social-emotional learning and reflecting on it with emotion response sheets.
When students complete the challenge, they will be asked to write a story about their jack-o-lantern using details and creative elements to match their physical jack-o-lantern. This hits on those important literacy skills we are always trying to use in our classrooms!
With math, writing, STEM and social-emotional learning this is a great Halloween day activity that can last all day long!
For this jack-o-lantern challenge, I like to use Legos, but any kind of building block can work, so use what you already have on hand. You can also check around with other teachers to see if they would be willing to let you borrow some of their Legos or building blocks while your students are working on this challenge.
I also like to get those little battery-operated tea-light candles to use at the end of the challenge for students to put inside their pumpkins. Nothing is more fun than turning off all the lights in the room and taking a walk around to admire all of the glowing pumpkin creations.
This challenge is great for a whole group or center activity depending on the ability levels of your students. I generally like to give my students about 25 minutes to create their pumpkins using task cards.
Light It Up!
Once they are done with their creations, I always make sure they complete a response sheet. It's so important for students to have the opportunity to reflect on the process.
After students have turned in their reflection sheets, I hand them their battery-operated candle to place inside their pumpkins. Not only does this encourage them to complete the reflection sheet, but also gives them something really fun to look forward to once they have finished their challenge. This is also a great opportunity to take some fun photos to include on your class website or even the school yearbook!
This jack-o-lantern STEM challenge is always a favorite during the fall months in my STEM classroom.
Even More Fun Halloween STEM Challenges
If you are looking for even more fun and exciting fall and Halloween-themed STEM challenges your students will love, be sure to check out my Halloween STEM Challenges BUNDLE. With everything from spider webs to a witch's tower, you are sure to find the perfect challenges to celebrate the season!
Be sure to check out my blog post Halloween STEM Activities for Elementary Students for even more fun ideas for using Halloween-themed STEM challenges in your classroom this fall!
Save these pumpkin STEM challenge ideas to your favorite Pinterest teacher board so you can come back quickly for fun and exciting pumpkin-themed STEM projects you and your students will love!