In third grade, we are learning about continents and oceans. As a culminating project, we make duh, duh, duh, da… Pumpkin Globes! It is so fun and my past kiddos always come back and tell me how much they loved it! We send home a little note a few weeks before, asking parents to send in a medium sized pumpkin. I teach at a Title 1 school so I do have families who can not afford a pumpkin. Depending on the number, I will purchase them myself or ask for donations.
I tell the kiddos not to bring the pumpkin until the day it is needed so we don’t have pumpkins hanging out all over our classroom. (and I had one rot before and the entire school smelled horrible when we returned on a Monday….) Also if students bring them in bags, make sure to take the pumpkins out. This will speed up the ripening process and also lead to rotting….
This project lasts three days because I break it down into steps.
1. The first thing we do, is draw the equator across the horizontal half of the pumpkin. I tell kiddos to do this slowly, otherwise their lines won’t meet up on the other side. I also demonstrate how to hold their sharpie marker in place and simply rotate their pumpkin.
2. Next, they draw the Prime Meridian down the vertical half of the pumpkin. Same thing, do it slow. Most of the time, you can use the natural rim/rings of the pumpkin for this.
3. I gather up as many globe as I can from other teachers so that my kiddos can have an up close comparison tool. I also project a map on our whiteboard and allow students to use their notes of the drawing we have already been practicing in their social studies journals.
4.The first continent they must draw is Africa. We talk about Africa looking like an ice cream cone with an ice cream scoop melting off. The “melting ice cream” part of Africa fits perfectly right above where the equator and Prime Meridian meet. You can kind of see it in this pic.
5. Now they can line up all the other continents and use the globe to help them draw the correct shapes. I tell them to pay CLOSE attention to how close the continents get to the equator and Prime Meridian. For example, Asia, does not go past the equator. We make sure we put each continent in the correct hemisphere.
6. The next day, we paint. We use acrylic paint. Tempera paint is cheaper, but it flakes off as soon as kids try to touch it or write on it. Make sure to tell kiddos to wear old clothes or bring a paint shirt. They WILL get paint on them! Don’t ask me how, but every year, someone ends up with paint in their hair! (and it is usually a boy…)
To do this I designate one table in my room to be the painting table. I cover that bad boy with tons of newspaper or a large piece of butcher paper! I usually can fit about 6 kiddos at a time to paint, while the rest work on various projects. I usually choose between creating a Haunted Restaurant to practice addition of multiple numbers, Batty Math, which is an addition and subtraction project or Pumpkin Patch Math, which is a multiplication and division project.
I just put out a few paper plates (not bowls because they spill) and one paint brush for each kiddo. Usually 3 for blue paint and 3 for green paint. Once a kiddo is done painting the oceans, he trades his brush with another kiddo to do the green continents and vice versa. I don’t wash out brushes between and change colors. Oh Lordy, what a mess! Don’t forget- Make sure to use ACRYLIC paint! Tempera paint will chip off and be gross. Kiddos will NOT be able to label the continents. Believe me, I learned this the hard way! You also need to clean your brushes out really well or this paint with ruin them (also learned the hard way…)
I do not have my kiddos paint Antarctica They just leave the bottom blank.
When they finish, they hold the stem and the bottom and take it out in the hall. Kiddos place a large piece of construction paper out in the hall and label it with their name. They place their pumpkin on that to dry.
7. The next day, the paint has dried and so we label the continents. Ask parents to donate permanent markers. I have done this multiple ways and have found the easiest way is to just have the students label each continent and ocean with a number and then make a map key on an index card. We hole punch the index card and use a string to tie the card to the stem. If students do not have a stem, I have them use a toothpick to poke the index card into the pumpkin.
This is such a fun project! Don’t be afraid to let your kiddos mess up. This is a great learning experience for them. Don’t expect their pumpkins to be perfect. They will still look amazing!
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