Squash and Pumpkins

In this lesson, children will gather observational data about a variety of squash and pumpkins and explore what is inside of these vegetables.

Content Area:

Curiosity and Wonder

Learning Goals:

This lesson will help toddlers and preschoolers meet the following educational standards:

  • Understand that living things grow and change
  • Explore the physical properties of objects

Learning Targets:

After this lesson, toddlers and preschoolers should be more proficient at:

  • Observing, investigating, describing and categorizing living things
  • Showing an awareness of changes that occur in themselves and the environment
  • Identifying, describing and comparing the physical properties of objects
toddler with sunflower

Squash and Pumpkins

Lesson plan for toddlers/preschoolers

Step 1: Gather materials.

  • Squash/Pumpkins in a variety of colors and sizes
  • Spoons
  • Chart Paper
  • Knife (for adult use to open squash/pumpkins)

Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that meet safety requirements.

Step 2: Introduce activity.

  1. During a large-group time, discuss that we will be exploring squash and pumpkins today.
  2. Invite the children to share what they know about squash and pumpkins.
  3. Write down the children’s ideas on chart paper.
  4. Show two or three different squash or pumpkins and invite the children to describe them.
  5. Invite the children to make comparisons about the different squash or pumpkins.
  6. Let children know that we will be examining these further in small groups.

Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.

  1. In small groups of 3-5 children, invite the children to make comparisons between all squash and pumpkins.
  2. Lead children in a brief discussion about how they think the squash and pumpkins grew and what they needed to grow to the size they are.
  3. Ask the children: “Why are they different sizes? Why are they different colors?”
  4. Invite the children to make predictions about what might be inside of the squash or pumpkins.
  5. Vote on two squash or pumpkins to open.
  6. Using a knife, have an adult open the squash or pumpkins.
  7. Let the children scoop out seeds and discuss what they find.
  8. Invite the children to share what they found out during this activity, and write down their thoughts and conclusions on chart paper to display within the classroom.

Note: save the squash and pumpkins to cook with the children. Soups are an easy way to cook with these vegetables.

Step 4: Vocabulary.

  • Compare—To identify the similarities or differences between two objects
  • Predict—To guess what might happen next
  • Conclude—To make statements of what was learned after an observation or experiment

Early Science Glossary

Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.

Adapt Lesson for Toddlers
Toddlers may:
  • Have emerging vocabulary to make comparisons between several items
Child care providers may:
  • Prompt children’s language use by asking simple questions about comparisons between two squash or pumpkins
Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers
Preschoolers may:
  • Want to document the experience by drawing what they learned
  • Begin to make rules about objects based on physical properties
Child care providers may:
  • Provide paper and drawing materials and invite the children to draw what was inside the squash or pumpkins
  • Discuss relationships between sizes or colors of squash and pumpkins and sizes and shapes of seeds

Suggested Books

  • Seed, Sprout, Pumpkin, Pie by Jill Esbaum
  • It’s Pumpkin Time! by Zoe Hall
  • Sophie’s Squash by Pat Zietlow Miller

Music and Movement

Outdoor Connections

Visit a pumpkin patch, community garden or farmers market in the fall to pick out squash or pumpkins to use in this activity. Consider planting a school garden ahead of time to grow these vegetables.

Web Resources

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