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Excel Math Blog

Monday, October 14, 2013

Pumpkin Math: Addition


Now that fall is here and school is well underway, it's a good time to bring out some pumpkins and celebrate the season. Your students will enjoy combining harvest time and fall foods with their math lessons.

With Excel Math, students learn addition and subtraction plus foundational math concepts. Our unique spiraling process helps students retain those concepts over the long term. Learn more at

Today we'll look at some fun ways to incorporate pumpkins with addition and basic fact practice.

Copy the Pumpkin Patterns and Base Ten Cards for your students so each child has one of each worksheet page. Have the students cut out the smaller pumpkins and the Base Ten Cards.

You may want to provide envelopes for storing the pieces so they can be reused.

Make sure students put their names on the envelopes. Let them take home the cards and envelopes in November with game instructions so they can continue playing with their family members and friends.

Pumpkin Muffin Word Problems
To help your students solve word problems, bring in some pumpkin muffins. Tell the following story: Emma had 4 muffins. Ethan had 7 muffins. How many muffins did they have together?

Have two students come to the front of the room and count out the number of muffins mentioned. Ask the students how they would find the total.

Pumpkin Patterns

Excel Math Pumpkin Patterns

base ten pumpkin cards

Excel Math Pumpkin Base Ten Cards

Point out that they should begin adding with the larger number. They could then count on: Ethan has 7 muffins, Emma has 8, 9, 10, 11. Or if they remember that 7 + 3 = 10, they could group together the 10 muffins and add one more for a total of 11.

Pumpkin Base Ten Cards
Now have the students use their Base Ten Cards to solve this problem.

Some students may choose the card that shows 4 pumpkins.

Talk about which number would be easiest to start with. (the largest, which is 7)

Ask the students how many more pumpkins they will need to be able to show the word problem with their cards. (4 more if they chose the 7 card)

Do a few word problems in this way, modeling them with the students and muffins and again with the Base Ten Cards. If you have time, let your students make up their own stories. Then give everyone a pumpkin muffin treat (make sure none of your students have allergies to them).

Pumpkin Hopscotch

Draw a hopscotch pattern on the floor (or create one with masking tape). Let the students number the large pumpkins 0-11 (one number per pumpkin) and cut them into square shapes to form cards. Have each student initial the back of his cards.

Divide the class into pairs. Have each pair combine the cards into one pile. Let one student draw a card from the pile and say the number aloud. The partner goes to the hopscotch grid and takes a number of hops equal the value of that number card. The hopper may have to go down to the end and back (or do it more than once) to use up the value of the number card. 

After each partner has a turn drawing a card and hopping, play an addition version. Let both players draw a card and say the number aloud. One player becomes the hopper. The hopper now hops the total number of spaces equal to the value of the two cards added together.

If they are unsure, have them use the Base Ten Cards to add the two numbers together before hopping. Play continues with both players drawing a card and a new player becoming the hopper.


pummpkin bulletin board

Pumpkin Patch Addition Bulletin Board
Use the Pumpkin Patterns (or some of the number cards your students created) to make a pumpkin bulletin board that can be used for basic fact practice. Cover a section of your wall or your bulletin board with burlap or colorful fabric. Use a pumpkin border or green scalloped border. You can add some of the small pumpkin patterns around the border and in the corners, if you wish.

Place some of the larger numbered pumpkins to form equations on the board. Attach a clear plastic pocket in one corner and place additional number cards in the pocket. Glue a piece of Velcro (hook and loop tape) to the back of each number. Glue the other side of the hook and loop tape to the bulletin board where the solution for each equation will go.

Let your students solve the addition problems as bell work during the week. On Friday, let several students find the correct answers and add them to the board. Your students can correct their papers and then change the board to form new equations for the following week.

Need more math bulletin board ideas? Check out our bulletin board patterns and reproducible worksheets:

New to Excel Math? Preview elementary math lessons that really work for Kindergarten through Sixth Grade on our website: Also find math resources for teachers, parents and students and walk through the curriculum at

Download sample lessons from our new Common Core Teacher Editions at

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