How to use Jack-o-lanterns to teach feelings and math!

Updated: Oct 2

A popular children’s song is the 5 Little Pumpkins. It’s a loved one because it has a mix of silly and spooky, while also learning math.

Did you know that singing this kind of song helps kids learn a challenging math skill?

That’s right, teaching ordinal numbers is so abstract to young kids, but when you do it through fun and play it is easy.

Using words like “First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth” teaches children new vocabulary while being able to order in a series.

Another fun hands-on approach to teach math with Jack-o-lanterns is through these playdoh feeling sheets.

Here’s how to do it in 4 easy steps:

1. Print the Jack-o-Lantern template to use as placemats.

Each of the pages has a different layout of shape for the child to mold the playdoh to match the face, or use the plain pumpkin to make your own.

2. Laminate or place the print outs inside one of these Sheet Protectors

Using a thick sheet protector that come in a pack like this helps to keep the paper dry and you can reuse them again and again.

3. Prepare or purchase playdough

Homemade play dough can be a fun science activity to do with the kids and is great for young kids who may still put things in their mouth.

Keep it white or mix up some red and yellow food coloring to get an orange color.

Download the recipe, or check out this video for directions on how to make your own batch.

4. Play and discuss what you see

Encourage children to mold the playdoh to match the Jack-o-Lantern face. In the process, point out that the eyes look like triangles, the mouth a circle and so on.

Did you know that as your child plays with the playdoh they are developing finger muscles needed for scissors and writing?

Point out to them how hard they’re working at pinching, rolling or flattening the play dough.

This will encourage them to focus on their work and learn new vocabulary.

Ask them how they did something too to see if they can start to use words like “squeeze or pinch” in their sentences.

Describe how the faces look like different feelings. Encourage your child to talk about the feelings with some of these questions.

  • What do you think this Jack-o-lantern is feeling? Why?

  • When did you feel like that?

  • Can you make a face like that too?