Lots of kids know that there are seeds inside of a pumpkin. They may have seen them if they carved Jack-o-Lanterns during October. They may have even toasted them and had a tasty treat. My older sister was allergic to pumpkin, so my dad tied garbage bags to her arms (all the way up to her armpits) so she could dig into the pumpkins with the rest of us, as it was a slimy-good time.
Small children love guessing games. They want a turn to guess, even if their guess is way off. They don’t care and neither should you. The purpose of estimation in the early years is to give children a chance to guess at the quantity of something or the frequency of an occurrence.
The fun part of pumpkin seed estimation is that you can do it in stages.
First, I would have the children estimate how many seeds there are inside the pumpkin BEFORE opening it up. That way, they can simply put a number out there as a complete guess. You can write down their estimations on a large sheet of paper so they can see who guessed what.
Next I would open the top of the pumpkin and have each child look down into it. That way they can get a sense of how full the pumpkin is with seeds. Then they can estimate again. Write down this number next to their first guess. You can then talk about why their guesses are the same or different, bigger or smaller.
For the third stage, I would have the children scoop the seeds onto a large baking pan and then rinse them off. That way they can see the separate seeds, without all of the pulp attached to them. Have them estimate a third time. Write this number down next to the first two. Are they the same or different? Are children changing their estimations based on observations or are they still guessing?
Finally, you count the seeds. It may be easiest to put the seeds into piles of 10, even though I wouldn’t expect the children to be able to count by tens. They could help you count to ten several times and you could then tell them the total. Compare this number to their estimations and discuss.
Even though children may eat the seeds at home, do NOT cook them at your center. Seeds are a choking hazard for young children.