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Make Pumpkin Boats

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” —Loren Eisley

Water truly is magical and supports life on our planet in so many ways. One way kids may not think about is transportation—humans have long used water as a means of travel and transporting goods from one place to another. In this activity, kids turn pumpkins into boats to explore sink and float and water transportation.

The Guide

  1. Make Predictions—Before you do anything, look at your pumpkin. Challenge kids to pick it up. Wonder together how you could turn this pumpkin into a boat. Do you think this pumpkin will float in water? 
  2. Float Test #1—Place your pumpkin in a bucket, pot or bathtub full of water. What do you notice? Wonder how you could change the pumpkin to make it float like a boat.
  3. Scoop it out—Cut open Just look and marvel at all that is inside! Invite kids to scoop out all of the insides onto a cutting board or into a bowl. If your kiddos enjoy ooey, gooey tactile fun, let them use their hands and lean in. If not, offer tools like spoons, tongs or tweezers. Save the seeds for roasting or try out this pumpkin seed counting activity
  4. Float Test #2—Once the insides are removed from the pumpkin, make another prediction together and then put the empty pumpkin in a bucket, pot or bathtub full of water. What do you notice?
  5. Set Sail—Find passengers in the form of acorns, pine cones, pebbles, twigs, legos or other objects. See how many small objects can take a sail in your pumpkin "boat."
  6. Marvel! Watch footage of the Great Pumpkin Race in Oregon—it may blow your minds!
  7. Make a regatta of your own—Make more boats out of pumpkins, squash or try this paper boat activity. Find out which boat floats the best or race them in your bathtub or bucket to see which one gets to the finish line first. Test out other objects (rocks, sticks, seed pods/acorns, flowers, flower petals, leaves) to see what else floats like boats.

Why is this activity great for kids?

Playing with water and removing the insides of a pumpkin stimulate multiple senses and engage kids attention for long periods of time. Water is also simultaneously stimulating and calmingideal for focus. Making and testing predictions are core STEM skills and great ways to develop curiosity. And, pretend play with boats and various passengers they choose can help kids develop imagination and flexible thinking.

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