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Monday, October 6, 2014

Five Little Pumpkins Fall Activities

Children build number sense when they have activities that include manipulating and working with objects.  Children learn language by singing, saying rhyming poems, and talking with their peers.  The poem Five Little Pumpkins is a great way to incorporate language and math with our young children.  Here is the traditional version of the rhyme.

Five little pumpkins sitting on a gate.
The first one said, “Oh my it’s getting late.
The second one said, “There are witches in the air.”
The third one said, “But we don’t care.”
The fourth one said, “Let’s run and run and run!”
The fifth one said, “I’m ready for some fun.”
Then woooooo (sound effects) went the wind and out went the lights.
Five little pumpkins rolled out of sight.

Of course I have my OWN version to the rhyme.  Keep on reading for my new version, a free printable, and directions along with the hands on activity.  Also included in this post are ideas for counting, ordinal position, adding, subtracting, working within 5, and working within 10.  This activity is a win-win because it incorporates all of these skills while providing our children with fine motor practice too.

Five little pumpkins talking happily. 
  • Point to smiling faces.
The first one said, “Look! What do you see? 
  • Point finger to one side.
The second one said, “I think it is a cat.” 
  • Make whiskers with hands on both sides of face.
The third one said, “I think it is bat.” 
  • Make flapping wings.
The fourth one said, “I can't it see from here!” 
  • Look through binoculars.
The fifth one said, “It's getting close. Oh dear!” 
  • Cross arms across chest and shake as if afraid.
Then flap went the wings as they heard this sound. 
  • Flap arms and make sound effects of bat after the word sound. 
  • See internet link for bat noises below. 
Five little pumpkins jumped to the ground.
1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5! 
  • Children take turns jumping in order while counting.

Kathy Griffin Copyright 2014

Here is one of my favorite books for the 5 Little Pumpkins with the traditional version.  The Amazon link is included for your convenience.


Materials Needed

  • Lay the 2 paint sticks horizontally lining up the ends while leaving a space between them. 
  • Lay the 5 jumbo craft sticks vertically across the paint stick, lining up the craft sticks at the top.  
  • I laid my paint sticks on a large piece of paper and used tape as a marker for where I would glue my vertical craft sticks to help keep it even.
  • Glue the 5 jumbo crafts sticks to the 2 paint sticks using a glue gun or craft glue.
  • Glue the pumpkin pieces onto clothespins.  Refer to the picture in the 10 frames version to see how I glued the pumpkins.  
  • Glue 5 to the bottom of the clothespin facing down and 5 to the bottom of the clothespin facing up.
  • Ready to play!
I like to use paint sticks because the have a natural handle for young children to hold.  If you have a child who is left handed, you can make one with the handle on the right side. My youngest daughter is left-handed and that always helped her.

I found these pumpkins at Michaels Craft Store and glued the backs to the clothespins.  

After the children have learned the poem and played it whole group, model how to use the fence to act out the poem.  They can touch each pumpkin in ordinal position as they same the rhyme.  For example: The first one said . . . They touch the first pumpkin.  The second one said . . . They touch the second pumpkin and continue through the 5th. 

Math Conversations to Have with the Children.

First This

  • How many pumpkins are on the gate?
  • How do you know?
  • Let's touch and count.
  • Point to the 1st pumpkin.
  • Point to the 2nd pumpkin.
  • Point to the 3rd pumpkin.
  • Point to the 4th pumpkin.
  • Point to the 5th pumpkin.
Then This
  • Can you touch the first pumpkin?
  • Can you touch the last pumpkin?
  • Can you touch the pumpkin in the middle?
  • Which one is the 2nd pumpkin?
  • Which one is the 4th pumpkin?
And Then This
  • Can you take off one pumpkin?
  • How many pumpkins are on the gate?
  • How do you know?
  • Let's count and see.
  • Can you take off another pumpkin?
  • How pumpkins are on the gate now?
  • How do you know?
  • Let's count and see.
  • Continue until they are all gone.
  • Some children will figure out the pattern that each time the number is one less. Other children will need to recount each time.  This is developmental as they build number sense.
  • The best way to build number sense is by providing opportunities to count real objects they can touch and not on a worksheet.
These pumpkins are actually cake toppers with the toothpick gently removed.  They make great game pieces.  Sign up by email, as I will be blogging about other ways to use cake toppers for learning games next.
Let's Play a New Game

First of all, counting the pumpkins in the previous  activity is the first step of developing number sense.  The next step is using a ten frame to help them visualize the number in an arrangement.  Both skills are equally important and should be used to complement each other.  The ultimate goal is that children can recognize smaller numbers without having to count whether they are in a line, circle, or spread apart in a different arrangement.  All of these activities and games will help build this number sense.

Working with 5 Directions

For this game you will need one die or number cards 1-5, the gate, and 5 clothespins.  
  • Place clothespins on the top part of the gate.
  • Child counts the pumpkins.
  • Child rolls the die.
  • If a six is rolled, child rolls again.
  • Child removes the number of pumpkins to match the number of the die.  
  • Always have the child remove the pumpkins from the right side of the gate first.  This keeps it in a 5 frame pattern and will help with visual recognition.
  • Place the clothespins back on the gate.
  • Roll again.
  • Repeat.  

Working with 10 Directions

For this game you will need one die or cards with numbers 0-10, the gate, and 10 clothespins.  
  • Place 5 clothespins on the top part of the gate.
  • Place 5 clothespins on the lower part of the gate.
  • Child rolls the die or draws a number card.
  • Child removes the number of pumpkins to match the number of the die or card.  
  • Always have the child remove the pumpkins from the bottom right side of the gate first.  This keeps it in a 10 frame pattern and will help with visual recognition and concepts of 10.
  • Place the clothespins back on the gate.
  • Repeat.  

Here are the links to hear the different sounds that a bat makes so the children can add bat sounds to my version of Five Little Pumpkins.


  1. I love this adaption of a classic! I've done this with felt but LOVE your resource choices. It's so great to see those fine motor skills being used. We are definitely doing this.

    1. Thank you so much for visiting my blog and commenting. I LOVE the fine motor aspect of this too. This is my grandson's favorite :)

  2. Do you have this activity- directions to make it and all the questions- in printable format? If so, are you willing to share it? I would LOVE to make a few - 5-6 of these and have it at the grandparent center for a bit then at a center for students to play with and act out on their own. (The person at the grandparent center needs lots of help sometimes- so having something as amazing as this would be a life saver to me!! THANK YOU!!! I would PAY too!!

  3. I noticed a typo in the fourth pumpkin's line, I think you meant it to say "I can't see it from here" I noticed it when I went into the drop box to download it.

    1. BTW it's a very fun set of activities you have come up with, Thank you!

  4. Hello Kathy. I noticed on your poem above that there is a typo..."The fourth one said, "I can't IT SEE from here!" Should it be "I can't see it from here!"?
    thank you