We brought a green pumpkin in from our garden and several small orange pumpkins in our classroom. We began by sketching the first pumpkin from our garden as friends gathered at the table. During this time, children took their learning into their own hands by working together to determine how to spell pumpkin. Several children spent time observing the pumpkins and only used green or an orange colored pencil to sketch their pumpkin.
After children had the opportunity to sketch, the children began to investigate the small pumpkins. We ordered them by size, sorted, classified, and measured them. For the first time, we used a scale which measured in ounces. At the beginning, the children would say, “This is zero! How can it be zero?” We then discussed that the scale was measuring in ounces. We began to identify the measurement of each pumpkin and documented this by adding the information to a chart. Most of the pumpkins were about 8 to 20 ounces.
We then created a chart about what color we thought would be inside each pumpkin. Each child had an opportunity to document their prediction. Most children thought that the green pumpkin would be orange inside and the orange pumpkin would be green inside. We opened them and were surprised to see so many differences and similarities between the two pumpkins so we decided to then make a Venn diagram. For those of you unfamiliar with these, we made two circles that interlocked. In each circle, we put the characteristics of each pumpkin. In the space where the circles interlocked, we put the similarities.
This activity started as sketching and ended up meeting objectives, encouraging the children to work together to cut through the pumpkins (I only verbalized ideas but never helped the children cut through the pumpkins!), and provided us opportunities to use our scientific inquiry skills.
Is there a teachable moment which took you further into learning? How did it start? What made you encourage the children to keep working despite the “agenda” you already had?