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Friday 7 October 2016

Halloween pumpkin decomposition activity - Understanding the world

pumpkin decomposition activity - understanding the world

With Halloween shortly upon us, I have already noticed the buzz growing steadily on Facebook and Pinterest around appropriate activities for parents/Teachers/childminders to plan in at school and at home. There are alot of 'make and do' activities which I see popping up year after year which are great for hitting particular learning goals within the EYFS, but still leave gaps within an area which can be tricky to plan for: "Understanding the World - The World".
So, I'm not going to write a blog about making halloween masks, cards, hats, candy apples, notepaper, design your own witch, trick or treat words etc - I'm going to ask you to think about planning an activity for when that's all over...

Book to support this learning:

If you have a pumpkin in school or in your setting already that you plan to carve out with the children, then great! if not, then make sure you bring one in after halloween to use as a talking point with your child/children first and foremost.

halloween pumpkin

Make the most of the initial learning opportunity to be sure that your children can use and understand the language, and are comfortable with using their senses, ready for the follow on activity: watching the pumpkin decompose!
  • Do spend some time talking about and recounting what your children did on Halloween, using the pumpkin as a talking aid. 
  • Name the different parts of the pumpkin
  • Talk about what you can see, feel, smell - discuss whether it is appropriate to 'taste' or possible to 'hear'

  1. Explain that you are going to watch the pumpkin 'decompose' over the coming days/weeks, challenge your children to notice any changes, using their senses (again, discuss which senses are safe to use!)
  2. Talk about how you could record and keep a track of the changes - for example, diagrams, photos, flipbook etc
  3. Find a safe place to keep the pumpkin and make sure your children are aware of the dangers of decomposing food.
This activity particularly lends itself to the 30-50 months age band of 'The World' with the following statements:

Comments and asks questions about aspects of their familar world such as the place where they live or the natural world.

Can talk about some of the things they have observed such as plants, animals, natural and found objects

Talks about why things happen and how things work.

Developing an understanding of growth, decay and changes over time

Shows care and concern for living things and the environment

Make sure that you are giving language to your children so that this activity is not just about noticing changes but also widening their vocabulary so that they are able to talk about thw things they have observed. Examples of describing words and verbs you could offer are:
  • Soft/softer/hard/harder/squidgy/spongy/firm/squashy
  • big/bigger/large/larger/small/smaller/short/shorter/wide/narrow
  • dark/darker/light/lighter
  • heavy/heavier/light/lighter
  • soft/smooth/rough/spikey
  • hot/warm/cold
  • mould/mouldy/furry
  • liquid/solid
  • change/changing
  • dead/dying/decomposing
  • collapsing/bending/falling
  • slow/fast
  • it smells....
  • it looks...

Extend this activity by:

 - Using technology such as the  Rainbow Talking PointsTalk-Time Postcards or the Easi-Speak recorder to record the children talking about the changes they have discovered.

 - Allow them to record the changes over time themselves using a V tech kiddi Camera

 - Allow them to get a closer look using a kids Jumbo magnifier:


NB: Some of these links are affiliate links - this means that it wont cost you any more to buy, but I may earn a small commission on sales made through these links.

Did you enjoy reading this? Why not have a look at some of my other EYFS activities here.

Learning through play posts

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