This pumpkin sorting activity combines sensory play, math exploration, and fine motor skills. All in one super fun package. Add it to your list of preschool pumpkin activities today.
You can grab the free printable sorting cards at the bottom of this post.
We have had such a blast with our scented fine motor pumpkin activity over the years! Seriously, those “tiny pumpkins” have been used over and over (and over!) again.
Because the homemade pumpkin manipulatives appeal to a variety of children, I couldn’t resist creating another pumpkin-themed activity based on them.
Preschool Pumpkin Sorting Activity
As I just mentioned, these “tiny pumpkins” (as the kids called them) have had mass appeal when it comes to preschoolers.
I can completely understand where the kids are coming from, as I just love running my hands through a bin of them!
They appeal to the sense of sight, sound, and touch on many levels. If you choose to add some spices to them, you’ve got the scent aspect as well. Just FYI, though, they won’t be good for sense of taste activities!
Despite my love of reusing materials, I made a brand new batch of mini pumpkins for this activity. I did so mainly because I wanted to add some different color options.
Related: Pumpkin Crafts for Preschoolers and Toddlers
Materials You’ll Need
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- Liquid watercolors (orange, green, and pearl)
- Dry chickpeas
- Printable pumpkin sorting cards (grab them at the end of this post)
- Small sorting containers (we used round plastic bottles from a local craft store)
- Kid-friendly tongs or tweezers (optional)
Homemade Pumpkin Manipulatives Directions
And Next Comes L’s rainbow chickpeas were the original inspiration for our tiny pumpkins, so I followed her directions.
Since a child pointed out that “Pumpkins aren’t just orange, Miss Mary Catherine,” I have wanted to offer pumpkin manipulatives in multiple colors.
We went for orange, green, and white pumpkins for this pumpkin sorting activity.
Encourage the children to help you find out more about the different colors pumpkins can be prior to this activity.
They can help you dye the chickpeas, too! You can use Ziploc baggies or reusable containers for this. Then just rinse the baggies or containers out and save them for your next dyeing project.
Big tip: make sure that you have fully sealed the baggies or closed the container lids before shaking to dye! I didn’t fully seal the lid on one of my containers and ended up with an orange hand for a little while.
Related: Five Senses Activities for Fall Fun
Setting Up the Pumpkin Sorting Activity
Once the chickpeas are dyed the colors you prefer, it’s time to set everything up.
First, grab a tray or a sensory bin. I went with a fun metal tray, but a larger sensory bin would work just as well. It just depends on your preference and what you have on-hand.
Place the colorful pumpkin manipulatives into the tray or bin. Since the goal of this pumpkin sensory tray was sorting, I went ahead and mixed all of the colors together on the tray.
You can, of course, place them out in neat separated rows of color to start off with though! Just be aware they might look like an Irish flag (not that I know that from experience or anything).
Next, label your sorting containers with the free printable pumpkin sorting cards. Remember, you can grab a set at the bottom of this post. You can also make your own, if you like!
Then place the labeled containers in or near the sorting pumpkins tray.
If you’re using tweezers or tongs, be sure to add those too.
Related: How to Dye Pumpkin Seeds
How to Use the Pumpkin Sorting Activity
Now that the invitation to sort pumpkins is set up, it’s time for you to introduce the activity to your students.
Explain to the children that they get to pretend to be pumpkin farmers. But their pumpkin field is a mess, with green, orange, and white pumpkins all mixed together.
Their job is to sort the pumpkins by color and help get the pumpkin patch organized and ready for visitors.
Model how to use the tongs or tweezers to transfer the pumpkin chickpeas into the appropriate containers.
Related: Corn Color Sorting for Math and Sensory Play
Then move out of the way and let the children get their hands on the pumpkin sorting activity!
Keep in mind, not all of your students are going to sort the tiny pumpkins.
Some are going to scoop them and dig in the chickpeas with their hands.
Some are going to count or make patterns with the pumpkin manipulatives.
Still others are going to use them as part of a pretend play experience.
In my mind, that’s all okay. Let the kids fully explore the materials to start out with. Then, after a while, you can redirect them to sorting the pumpkins if you want to.
Or you can just let the children explore, play, and learn as they see fit!
Related: St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Bin with Dyed Chickpeas
Ways to Extend the Pumpkin Sorting Activity
While I’ve focused in on sorting pumpkins with this activity, that’s not the only thing you can do with these pumpkin manipulatives.
Add pumpkin letter cards to the pumpkin sorting activity. The kids can write letters IN the pumpkin chickpeas. These pumpkin cards are from Preschool Teacher 101’s pumpkin theme lesson plan pack.
Related: Easy Halloween Activities Using Mini Erasers
You can add scoops, funnels, cups, and spoons. Then let the children explore pouring, measuring, and transferring the materials.
Place magnetic numbers or printable number cards alongside the bin. The students can count out the appropriate amount of tiny pumpkins next to each number.
Make pattern prompts to place near the bin. Children can use the colorful pumpkins to extend your pattern prompts or make up their own.
The children can use the chickpeas to form letters based on printable letter cards.
Pair the pumpkin sensory bin with shape mats. The children can use the pumpkin manipulatives to form shapes on the mats.
Print out sight word cards and let the kids use the chickpeas to make the words.
Really there are SO MANY ways to extend the activities. Preschool children are so creative that they usually end up coming up with even more ideas than we can.
Learning with the Pumpkin Sorting Activity
There is so much learning that takes place as the children are sorting pumpkins in this sensory bin.
Here are a few of the preschool skills the kids might explore with this:
- Sorting by color
- Fine motor skills
- Exploring with the senses
- Language skills
As I mentioned above, your students might take this activity in a completely different direction. And that’s okay. They’ll likely end up learning even more when they’ve added their own twist to the invitation.
Preschool Pumpkin Lesson Plans
Save your precious personal time and grab done-for-you lesson plans from Preschool Teacher 101.
Each set comes with book suggestions, weekly plans, daily lessons, center ideas and explanations, and related printables. Basically, all of the plans and ideas for a variety of preschool themes.
Grab the pumpkin lesson plans on Preschool Teacher 101. While you’re there, take a look at the membership opportunity for even more savings.
Sneak Peek of the Pumpkin Lesson Plans
Free Pumpkin Sorting Printables
As I mentioned above, you can grab your own pumpkin sorting printables for free. They’re pumpkins of all colors, each labeled with the color word!
You can use the pumpkin sorting printables to replicate this activity, or you can use a variety of other materials:
- acrylic pumpkins
- pumpkin mini erasers
- glass gems
- math manipulatives
And you don’t have to just stick with the orange, green, and white pumpkins. There are pumpkin cards for red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, black, gray, and white.
These pumpkin printables are available to members of Fun-A-Day’s free email community. If you’re a member, enter your information in the form below to get the printable sent to your email.
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If you try out this pumpkin sorting activity, or come up with a different one using this printable, be sure to let me know how it goes! You can share what you did on Fun-A-Day’s Facebook page or tag me on Instagram!
where did you get those cute jars for the pumpkin sorting?
Mary Catherine says
Hi Beverley! I found them years ago at a local craft store (I think it was A.C. Moore). I’m on the lookout for more, because I love their shape!!