Will the Pumpkin Sink or Float?
by Judie Haynes
Teach a lesson on sinking and floating in the fall and use pumpkins to tie it to Halloween. This lesson also provides your English language learners with practice in estimating and in predicting outcomes.
Teach a lesson on sinking and floating in the fall and tie the activity to Halloween by using pumpkins for the experiments. This lesson follows TESOL Pre-K-12 ESL Standards: Standard 2, Goal 2.
Will a pumpkin sink or float?
Advanced beginning to intermediate ESL students grades 1-4
Content Concepts and Skills
Floating and sinking; predicting results
Sink, float, solid, hollow
Materials or Resources
A variety of small pumpkins of different shapes; a bucket of water; assorted fruits and vegetables.
- Have students guess whether their pumpkins will sink or float when placed in a pail of water. Have them record their guesses. Make a chart of student guesses under the words “Sink” and “Float.”
- Download PDF file Pumpkin Records. Have students put a variety of pumpkins in a pail of water. After they see that the pumpkin will float, ask them to discuss which side is up when a pumpkin floats (stem, side or bottom) and whether all pumpkins will float the same way. Have each student or group of students float a pumpkin see if they all float the same way. Fill the results on the record sheet.
- Try and see if other fruits and vegetables will float and graph the results. Have students complete the chart on the second page of Pumpkin Records.
- Have students brainstorm what the vegetables that float have in common. Elicit from them that they are all hollow inside. Does the shape of the pumpkin determine where the stem is when a pumpkin floats? Compare chart results to get a response.
- Try some of the pumpkin activities in Pumpkin Science.
- Enjoy eating the different vegetables and fruit after you are finished the lesson.
Descriptors and Progress IndicatorsDuring this unit students worked on the following skills:
- listening to, speaking, reading, and writing about subject matter information
- retelling information
- hypothesizing and predicting
- representing information visually and interpreting information
- selecting, connecting, and explaining information
- formulating and asking questions
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