Halloween Fall Pumpkin Sorting Activity: Cognitive Development Lesson Plan for Preschool

by Carla on October 14, 2009

Fall is in full swing! The leaves are changing colors and falling and the air is nice and brisk.  As many child daycare centers begin to implement fall themed activities, consider this pumpkin sorting activity. Pumpkin sorting is a fun autumn-themed activity that supports cognitive development.

Cognitive Development in Preschoolers

Cognitive development focuses on developing functions of the brain such as thinking, learning, awareness, judgment, and processing information. According to developmental psychologist Jean Piaget, children go through several stages of cognitive development and learning activities for toddlers and children should correspond to the appropriate developmental stage.

Pumpkin sorting is a cognitive activity for preschoolers that helps them learn and practice the skills of classification, relationships, and counting. This lesson plan includes preparation instructions, procedures, and materials list for this activity. The lesson plan also includes age-appropriate learning objectives and examples of the simple supporting verbal cues necessary to encourage participation and support learning in child care centers.

Activity Materials

  • Large Felt Board
  • Orange Felt
  • Pumpkin templates (optional)
  • Scissors

Activity Preparation

Trace pumpkins in various sizes (some large and some small) on a large piece of orange felt. You may also use pumpkin templates to trace the pumpkins on the felt. Cut the pumpkins out the felt. Arrange them randomly on a large felt board.


Invite the children over to the felt board. Explain to them that they will be sorting pumpkins and arranging them biggest to smallest. Encourage the children to place the pumpkin cut outs in graduated order from biggest to smallest. After they are arranged encourage the children to sort into two categories, placing big pumpkins on one side of the board and small pumpkins on the other. Next ask them to count the number of pumpkins in each group.

Objective 1: To develop an understanding of classification by encourage children to sort pumpkins by size

  • Verbal Cue A: Can you sort the pumpkins into big and small?
  • Verbal Cue B: Let’s put the big large pumpkins on this side of the board and the small pumpkins on the other side.

Objective 2: To teach about relationships using the terms small, big, and bigger

  • Verbal cue A: Let’s arrange all of the pumpkins in order from big to small.
  • Verbal Cue B: Which pumpkin is bigger? This pumpkin or this pumpkin?

Objective 3: To introduce the number concept of 1-10

  • Verbal Cue A: Let’s count the number of small pumpkins
  • Verbal Cue B: How many large pumpkins are there?

By participating in this pumpkin sorting activity, young children will learn important cognitive skills such as sorting and classification, spend time becoming familiar with the symbols of autumn, and have great fun.

About Carla

Carla Snuggs has written 88 post in this blog.

Carla is a freelance writer from Southern California. She has a B.A. in early childhood education and a Master of Library and Information Science degree specializing in public librarianship and youth services.

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