Pumpkin Math: Five Learning Center Rotations

by on March 9th, 2015
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“Teach it quick and make it stick.” That’s the motto of Sharon Bowman, keynote speaker and author. Students learn math best when they are engaged in lively, hands-on experiences. October is the perfect time to incorporate pumpkin math center rotations: they fit in with the Halloween theme and pumpkins are typically in abundance. These five math centers can be adapted to grade level.

Arrange students in groups. If you go over the expectations for each math task beforehand, the students – depending on their ages – will typically complete the math center activities in 10 to 15 minutes. Allow a few moments in between for group members to clean up and rotate to the next center. Create and give each student a recording sheet to ensure accountability for all tasks.

Distribute copies of this symmetrical pumpkin so they have something specific to work on if they finish early at any of the pumpkin math centers.

Circumference

Provide yarn, measuring tape and a large pumpkin. Each student in the group cuts a piece of string to represent his prediction of the pumpkin’s circumference. The students measure around the pumpkin’s middle and compare their strings with the correct measurement. On a nearby wall, hang three sheets of butcher paper labeled “too long,” “too short” and “just right.” Depending on the size of the pumpkin, allow a margin of error for the “just right” area. Have students tape their strings on the appropriate sheets. They should then calculate the difference between their predictions and the actual measure.

Pascal’s Pumpkins

Draw 21 circles for Pascal’s triangle on a large sheet of paper. Click here for the triangle pattern. Make 21 pumpkin cut-outs from poster board that will fit on the circles. Velcro works well for this project so the cut-outs will stay in place. Label the cut-outs with the following numbers: eleven 1’s; one 2; two 3’s; two 4’s; two 5’s; one 6 and two 10’s. To get students started, hang a paper in the area showing them which numbers to place in the top circles of the triangle. The group works together to find a pattern and place the rest of the pumpkin cut-outs on the bottom circles of the triangle. When they have completed the puzzle, students discuss other patterns they observe.

Weight Predictions

Provide a scale and pumpkins of various sizes. Students arrange the pumpkins in a line, based on least-to-greatest predicted weight. Make sure there are some tough choices. Students record their predictions of what each pumpkin will weigh. They weigh the pumpkins, record the actual weights, and find the differences between their predictions and the actual weights. If there is a willing volunteer in the group, have students predict what his weight will be when he steps on the scale, holding the largest pumpkin. This activity could also be done with a metric balance scale and tiny pumpkins.

Venn Diagram

Provide two-circle Venn diagrams drawn on large sheets of paper, markers, a pumpkin and one other type of fruit, such as an apple, an orange or a cantaloupe. Students discuss the similarities and differences between the pumpkin and the other piece of fruit and then compare and contrast them on a Venn diagram. If students are advanced, use a three-circle Venn diagram and compare the pumpkin to two other fruits.

Coordinate Grid

Provide brown, yellow and orange crayons, markers or colored pencils and copies of this blank coordinate grid and graphing directions. Students will plot points in quadrant one of a coordinate grid to create the picture of a jack-o-lantern. If they have learned to plot in all four quadrants, provide a more challenging grid. This activity can be continued for homework.

Sources: Education World; MathWire.com
Image credit: sxc.hu/RAWKU5

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