Brain Study with Pumpkins

Halloween is my favorite holiday and I am always on the look out for new ways to play and learn with pumpkins. We have been interested in the brain quite a bit lately, and have especially enjoyed making brain hats. It occurred the me the other day that brain hats we’ve been making, if slightly altered, could be used as a pumpkin carving template. Once I made this realization, the rest was too easy.
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In order to carve my pumpkin brain I needed all the typical tools included in a basic, inexpensive pumpkin carving kit as well as a potato peeler, scissors, tape, and the free printable brain hat from Ellen McHenry.


I started off by deciding which side the pumpkin would rest on. Since I didn’t want the stem in the way of the brain carving, I turned the pumpkin on its side. Once I knew which side would be the bottom, I knew where to cut the hole so I could gut the pumpkin.
On Beyond Zombie, Brain Study with Pumpkins (2)
After the pumpkin was gutted, I cut out the brain template and snipped along the solid lines as if I was going to make a brain hat with it. Then I pressed the template to the pumpkin and taped it into place, occasionally manipulating the paper so it would lay as flat as possible.
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There is a bit more of a gap between the two hemispheres than would be ideal, but besides that it turned out pretty well.
I then used my awl (which is the tool that looks like a nail with a handle) to poke holes through the paper along the lines that I wanted cut.
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Once I had the entire template dotted out, I used my small saw to cut out the dotted lines.
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Be careful not to cut all the way through the pumpkin!
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Once the entire design had been cut, I then used my potato peeler to take the orange rind off the pumpkin only where I carved out the brain.
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At this point the brain part was done but just for fun I carved eyes and a mouth around the stem nose.
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Now at this point the actual carving is all done and it is a pretty respectable looking jack-o-lantern.
I then used masking tape, toothpicks, and Sharpie markers to make little flags labelled with the different parts of the brain.
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I made two flags for each brain part, I mapped out one hemisphere with the flags, then I invited LittleMan to map out the other hemisphere using the one I completed as a model. Through this activity we found ourselves talking about what the various parts of the brain do, how our skull protects our brains, and the symmetry of the brain.
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Now on to this week’s On Beyond Zombie Linky Party!

We had so many excellent posts linked up last week that I couldn’t choose just one favorite to feature so this week’s top three featured posts are as follows:
Star Wars Homeschool Unit Study from Brain Power Boy
Halloween Themed Science Experiments from Promoting Success 
7 Ways to Play with Dry Ice from Science Kiddo

Remember, if you link up with us this week then you might get featured next week! And even if you don’t get featured, the posts you share with be pinned and re-shared throughout our social media platforms.

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4 Comments to Brain Study with Pumpkins

  1. Christy M says:

    This is brilliant! I hope my kids like it too.

  2. Skye says:

    So zombies want to eat pumpkin brains now…?

  3. Sheila says:

    This is a really cool project. I am sure there are a lot of kids who are going to just love it.

  4. annabelt says:

    I love it! Creepy, educational and funny all at the same time 🙂

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