While the students are sitting on our classroom meeting place rug, I explain that because it is fall, the leaves are falling off of the trees and it's time to harvest. I ask the students, "What kinds of things can you harvest in the fall?"
I talk about apples, since the students have prior knowledge of how apples grow and that they are harvested in the fall.
The class will have an anchor chart that will include any questions the class may have about pumpkins that we can begin to answer during our unit. We will revisit this chart often and post answers or add more questions as they arise.
I have stations set up around the room with the different types of pumpkins at each station. I split the class into small groups of 4-5 students per group. This is done ahead of time in order to save time during the lesson. I let the students know that their only job for the day is to rotate through the stations and observe the pumpkins and talk to their peers in the group about what they see, hear, smell, feel and taste. I model one station rotation for the students. I talk about how students are being scientists when they investigate objects and take notes about what they see, touch, hear, smell and taste.
During the investigation, students have 4-6 minutes at each station. I ring a bell when I see that all groups have had a chance to explore the pumpkins at their table. If I see that any students are off task, I will walk over and ask probing questions to get them back on track.
When the bell rings, the students freeze. The students have learned previously that when I say "freeze" that they should stop, look and listen to the next direction.
The students then rotate clockwise around the room to the next station. The students can recognize which way to rotate by the large arrow posters placed around the classroom.
I remind the students that they should use their five senses when doing their observations. The students can refer to our 5 senses anchor chart that we created in our five senses unit to help remind them of what to investigate.
The stations include:
1. large vs. small pumpkins
2. orange vs. white pumpkins
3. bumpy/rough vs. smooth pumpkins
4. a tasting station with fresh pumpkin for each student to taste
5. pumpkins that are cut open for the students to see the inside
I make sure that they understand that it is important that they make observations so that they can contribute to our discussion and anchor chart at the end of the activity. I choose to do this center based activity so that my students could explore a variety of pumpkins that exist in nature. By using their 5 senses they have an opportunity to apply what they learned in our 5 senses unit to learn more about pumpkins.
When all students have rotated through each station, I ring the bell for the last time and ask that the students meet me back on the meeting rug. On chart paper, I have ready ahead of time, a chart with photographs of each station along the top and pictures cues of the 5 senses going down the left side of the chart. In a group, we talk about each station and what we observed using our senses. I record the students answers on the chart for each station using turn taking sticks. Turn taking sticks ensure that every student has an opportunity to add to the anchor chart.
I use a chart with photographs of each station so that the students have a visual of each station they were at when we go back to fill in the chart. Often times in kindergarten, students will have a hard time remembering the stations they were at or what they were supposed to be looking for. Using the pictures helps students to remember exactly what was at each station.
I also use a visual for the five senses. While I have already taught a unit on the 5 senses, the visual helps students use prior knowledge to connect with this lesson.
Using pictures is also very helpful for students with disabilities and students that are English Language Learners because pictures are universal while language is sometimes difficult to understand.
I close this lesson by asking students to draw a picture of the pumpkin that is most interesting and least interesting in their science journals. As the adults walk around the room, they help the students write down a a sentence explaining the similarities and differences between their most interesting and least interesting pumpkin.
"Scientists observe and record what they are studying."
Since we are doing observations on pumpkins, it is important for the students to be able to apply their observations to their journals.