Pumpkins are great decoration for our yards and they give families lots of fun carving, painting, etc. But once Halloween is over, what should you do with that jack-o’-lantern you enjoyed carving? Why not set it in a corner of your yard for a science activity about making observations and the circle of life? This decomposing pumpkin activity will allow you more fun times with the family.
What you need:
- area of ground outside where the pumpkin can decompose
- colored pencils and/or digital camera
- science journal
- Pumpkin Jack book by Will Hubbell
What to do:
Start out by reading Will Hubbell’s book Pumpkin Jack. This book relays the story of a boy named Tim, whose first carved pumpkin he named Jack. AS time went on, Jack began to to rot, and Tim decided to watch the changes. In the process, he learned a lot about the cycle of life.
- Put either your jack-o’-lantern or another pumpkin you are done with in a corner of a yard where it can rot freely.
- Help your child record the starting date and then draw or take a picture of the pumpkin at the beginning of your experiment. Have your child write some notes, recording his or her observations about the pumpkin at this moment.
- Make weekly observations of the pumpkin over the next several months. Continue to observe it until it has rotted away to the ground. During each visit, have your child take or draw a picture and write notes.
- From time to time, discuss the changes you are observing and have your child make suggestions about why these things are happening to the pumpkin.
Alternate versions: Observe both a carved and an uncarved pumpkin decompose (and compare differences in the ways and rates at which they decompose) or, if you have no place to let a pumpkin rot outdoors, watch a piece of pumpkin in a glass jar rot inside.
Books About Pumpkins