A few months back during Halloween festivities, while many classrooms were traditionally carving pumpkins, in the learning commons, different challenges were presented:

 Make Something out of a Pumpkin

OR

Put the Pumpkin back Together

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Students in grades 2-6 were invited into this challenge and groups according to challenge choice and good team pairings. From here, each group was given a planning page to decide what materials would be needed and how they would go about completing the task. They were given 4 lunch periods to complete this.

Students mostly chose to put the pumpkin back together. Brainstormed ideas included using glue sticks, wet glue, masking tape, packing tape and scotch tape. While I already knew the possibly of these materials being successful, I had to remind myself about F.A.I.L. (first attempt in learning).

Students who chose to create something thought of boats, flowers, bridges and a body. Again, they only thought of the above ideas for how to connect the pumpkin pieces together.

At the beginning of the challenge, students were given a pumpkin already cut up with a photo of how it looked before. The level of difficulty was varied so younger kids could possibly accomplish this just like the older ones.

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At the end of the challenge… well, one group had 1/3 of their pumpkin put back together and most others kept falling apart. Kids tried different tapes, glues and strategies – such as asking what other groups were trying – to try to get the pumpkins to stay.

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So at the end of the week, this project definitely experienced failure. However, when we met as group on the last day to discuss what happened and brainstorm other ideas that could have worked. Here, with a bit of encouragement, I held up a sewing pin. After the kids asked why I didn’t tell them, I said that learning is about the journey and not the final product. I also explained that they thought of ideas I never would have so who was I to say my idea was the best?

The kids said they’d like to do this again – my response was that they had to wait until next year. In the meantime, upon reflecting on this task myself, I would definitely change three things:

  1. Have it be a one-day challenge as the pumpkins shriveled much quicker than I would have thought
  2. Have a supply table with all sorts of goodies readily available for prompting idea generation.
  3. Have the kids carve and cut up their own pumpkins!
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