Fall is a wonderful time of year to learn about the parts of a pumpkin. Perfect for a homeschool lesson or fun weekend activity.
Read on to learn how to do a pumpkin exploration with your kids!
Parts of a Pumpkin
If you are learning about pumpkin's with your kids, the list below can be used as a vocabulary list for a pumpkin unit study.
Make sure to check out the bottom of the post to find out how to download your free copy of the parts of a pumpkin worksheets.
Kids can use the printables before, during, or after the investigation.
Affiliate Disclaimer: Some of the links on this blog are affiliate links. Nature Inspired Learning receives a small commission when certain items are purchased, but the price is the same for you.
Each part of a pumpkin plant has a specific job. Since pumpkin plants are annuals, they complete their entire life cycle in a growing season. Seeds sprout, the plant grows, and produces fruit all within one season.
Parts of a Pumpkin Plant
The main goal of the plant is to produce seeds. Seeds can then be saved and planted the following year.
Before we dive into the parts, lets go over the job of each part of a pumpkin plant!
Visiting a pumpkin patch with your kids is not only fun, but a great way to see the plant growing in real life. Even sprouting a few seeds inside the house will give kids a first hand experience with the parts of the plant.
Kids can observe the roots, stem, and leaves even with a small plant grown on a sunny windowsill.
As the plant grows, the leaves create food for the plant. Leaves capture sunlight and take in carbon dioxide. These two ingredients plus water make food for the plant. Oxygen is then released. This process is called photosynthesis.
The large leaves create shade and keep the soil moist. If you have ever grown pumpkins than you know that pumpkins are often hidden under the leaves as they grow. Leaves can have fine hairs on their surface and feel picky to the touch.
The vine carries nutrients to different parts of the plant. Water also moves through the plant through the vines. Often, more than one pumpkin will grow on each vine.
Believe it or not, pumpkin vines are similar to cucumber and watermelon vines. As the vine grows it produces thin tendrils. These long curly strands attach themselves to fences, trellises, and other plants.
A pumpkin's tendrils help anchor the plant. Along with the roots, they help to support the plant as it grows. You will find these thin green strands curled around different objects. After the vine dies, they will turn brown.
The main functions of the roots are to anchor a plant and take in water and nutrients. Plants need water in order to make their own food. Nutrients found in the soil are taken up through the roots.
Before a pumpkin is picked, it is attached to the plant by its stem. The stem is green during the growing season and turns brown once it is cut from the plant.
Leaves may grow close to the stem on the vine, but no leaves grow on it. Stems are often curved and even though they look like a handle, it is best not to pick up a pumpkin by its stem.
Large bright yellow and orange flowers stand out against the green foliage of the plant.
Pumpkin plants produce two different types of flowers: male and female. Male flowers usually bloom first. Their role is to attract pollinators such as bees to the plant. Female flowers are the blooms that will produce a pumpkin. (Source)
Related Post: Life Cycle of a Pumpkin with Free Printables
Parts of a Pumpkin
Now that we know the basics of the parts of the plant, lets look at the different pieces that make up an actual pumpkin.
When exploring pumpkins with your kids, take a few minutes to observe the outside of a pumpkin. If possible, gather a few different varieties and compare how they are similar and different. Sometimes the simplest activities are the most memorable.
When we first think of pumpkins we may imagine a large orange circle. However pumpkins come in a variety of colors and tones including white, green, greenish blue, and light orange.
The colorful part of the pumpkin is the skin. People sometimes call the skin the rind. This outermost layer protects the fruit. As the pumpkin grows, the seeds begin to form inside.
Under the skin is the pulp. Often called the flesh or meat. The pulp is what people use to make puree and pumpkin pie.
Your kids can see the different between the pulp and the peel. How are they similar in appearance? How are they different?
If you have ever carved a pumpkin, the fibrous strands are the wet and stringy parts inside of the cavity. These strands are slimy and have seeds attached to them.
The next generation of pumpkins in waiting. Since pumpkins are annuals, their goal is produce seeds. These seeds, also called pepita, are found within the cavity of a pumpkin.
A seed coat is a shell that is found on the outside of a seed. This shell protects the inside. Seed coats are usually off white in color, while the inside is light green.
When doing the investigation with your kids, it is fun to open one of the seeds. Kids can use a magnifying lens to see the inside.
Found on the bottom of a pumpkin is the blossom end. This spot is where the original flower bloom was located.
Blossom ends are usually off white in color and stand out against the bright orange skin of a pumpkin in a pumpkin patch.
Pumpkin Science for Kids
- Middle School
Tips for Doing a Pumpkin Exploration
- Using a small pumpkin will make it easier for you to cut it in half
- Let your kids observe the outside before you cut it open
- A large plastic bin or table cloth can help contain the mess
- Kids can scoop out the insides and collect the seeds
Observing the Inside of a Pumpkin
Before cutting open the pumpkin, ask your kids what they will find inside. Children can discuss this out loud or write down their guesses.
It would be fun for them to draw an illustration and describe the inside using adjectives.
Depending on the age of your child, you can have them predict how many seeds are inside of the pumpkin.
Predicting, counting, and calculating the average is a fun way to integrate math into this science lesson.
After you cut open the pumpkin, let your children feel the fibrous strands and seeds. Feeling all of that slimness is a wonderful sensory rich experience for kids.
I like to do challenge by choice because some kids will not be comfortable touching the insides and that is okay!
Printable worksheets can be used before, during, or after observing the pumpkin. Kids can draw their own illustrations along with describing each of the parts.
Kids can cut out the words from the word bank and place them on the actual parts of a pumpkin. Then they can use glue to stick them onto the worksheet.
Directions for accessing your free copies can be found at the bottom of this post.
Follow Up Activities
- Plant a few pumpkin seeds
- Read a few books about pumpkins: Too Many Pumpkins is a great book for kids.
- Learn about the life cycle of a pumpkin with free printable sorting cards.
- Make art using pumpkin coloring pages
These printables were created by Nature Inspired Learning and are for personal use only in your home or classroom. All of these free parts of a pumpkin printables are for non-commercial use. For more information see the full disclosure. Have questions, send me an email at julie (at) natureinspiredlearning (dot) com
- Click the button below to bring up a PDF version of the printable pack
- Print off using your printer