Pumpkin vines on the sticky table

Whenever we explore any topic or unit, I try to provide a variety of ways for the children to explore the concept. I find that providing different ways to explore a concept helps my students look at ideas from a variety of perspectives. I also find that I learn more about my students when I observe them trying different approaches to learning. Some of my students even surprise me at what they seem to understand.  For an example of what I am saying, I want to share a little bit about the pumpkin vines we talked about last week…

We read a book about how pumpkin vines grow in the garden. I think it was called “The Mystery Vine.”  After the children in the book discovered that the mystery vine was a pumpkin vine we made our own vine too.  We took a ball of yarn and passed it around the circle to create our own pumpkin vine.  Each of us held on to the yarn and then we all grew up like pumpkins on the ground…

It was a really simple lesson on pumpkin vines and we didn’t spend a whole lot of time with it. As a follow-up to circle time, the children explored different kinds of pumpkin activities.  The sticky table was set up in one area of the room. The sticky table is simply sticky-back contact paper spread out on the table and taped in place so the sticky side of the contact paper is facing up.  I set out orange pompoms and green yarn (and a few other items) but didn’t explain what to do with any of the items…

The children amazed me at their understanding of our simple lesson during circle time. They immediately called me over to show me their pumpkin vines….

This little three year old showed me how he made pumpkins with the materials…

I had also set out craft sticks and was asked what they were for.  I asked if anyone remembered our rhyme “Five Little Pumpkins Sitting on a Gate?”  Although they remembered the rhyme, they had other plans for the craft sticks. In my mind, they could make gates with them but their ideas were far more clever..

I love the sticky table. The cups on the table stick really well so they don’t tip over and the children can explore as freely as they like.

In addition to the sticky table, I also shared this “no-rules” pumpkin vine game that I made for the children…

Every game I make is very open ended. The children can play the game any way they wish. Some chose to use the dice and count their way around the vine…

Others just like putting as many pumpkins on the vine as they could..

Again, this was just another way for the children to explore the concept of pumpkin vines. The game offered additional learning like counting and organizing and cooperating with others…

And then we made our own pumpkins in art. We worked on our cutting skills as we cut up orange and green construction paper strips…

Then the children glued the construction paper snips on their paper plates…

Each of these centers are open at the same time. The children migrate from center to center throughout the first part of our morning. There are other centers, like blocks and the library open as well that they can play in. I am just showing you the centers that went along with our pumpkin discussion…

And in case you are wondering – Later in the morning (after snack) we go outside to our outdoor classroom where we explore water, sand, play dough, easels, and other more other sensory based (or messy) centers. This allows for a different kind of experience and additional exploration of our pumpkin vine concept.

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By |2011-10-17T06:00:41+00:00October 17th, 2011|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Little Wonders' Days October 17, 2011 at 6:33 am - Reply

    I love all your pumpkin activities. It is amazing what young children can really understand and take away with them to build upon later. I often tell my kids’ teachers that they were talking or playing such and such so they know that their teaching stuck with them.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 17, 2011 at 8:49 am - Reply

      Yes – I never know what they seem to grasp until I observe their play and they always get far more than it seems.

  2. kristin @preschool daze October 17, 2011 at 7:36 am - Reply

    sticky table?!?! i’m doing that!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 17, 2011 at 8:46 am - Reply


  3. Heidi Butkus October 17, 2011 at 8:37 am - Reply

    That’s a neat activity! I think it’s funny that they don’t teach us to do thing like that in the regular college classes, (though probably in the early childhood courses they would have.)
    Love it!
    Heidi Butkus

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 17, 2011 at 8:50 am - Reply

      Well actually, even in the early childhood courses I didn’t learn most of the actual classroom activities that we do:) Unless the preschool you do your student teaching in has these kinds of things there for you to learn from:)

  4. Scott October 17, 2011 at 8:40 am - Reply

    I had the same reaction as Kristin – sticky table?!?! I’m doing that!

    Thanks for the continued inspiration, Deborah.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 17, 2011 at 8:50 am - Reply

      You are welcome Scott – now go get sticky!

  5. Taleah October 17, 2011 at 11:22 am - Reply

    I love the paper plate pumpkins!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 17, 2011 at 1:44 pm - Reply

      Haha – these were very simple too:)

  6. Laura (The SEEDS Network) October 17, 2011 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    Wow – how simple yet clever — a STICKY table! I can see endless possibilities with this – can’t wait to try it! Have you ever done any other sticky table activities, Deborah?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 17, 2011 at 1:45 pm - Reply

      No – I just started the sticky table this year but the possibilities are endless:) I am sure I will be sharing more on this!

  7. Stacy @ {share&remember.blogspot.com} October 17, 2011 at 2:27 pm - Reply

    We did little paper plate pumpkins today too! My group needs to work on cutting and gluing and they love it. Great idea with the pumpkin vine!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 17, 2011 at 10:21 pm - Reply

      Thank you Stacy – I hope your kids had fun with their little pumpkins too!

  8. Roz Karp October 17, 2011 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    I love the open ended mini pumpkin game. One can never predict what children will do with this type of a game. Something similar and yet different is how they get the newest drugs. They learn the side effects of presently used drugs and use these to help with THOSE problems. Many of our best drugs out there were actually not designed for those purposes. Keep up the good work in having children think OUTSIDE of the box.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 17, 2011 at 10:20 pm - Reply

      I will!

  9. Andrea October 17, 2011 at 8:44 pm - Reply

    Every time I come here I am so inspired. I love the sticky table idea – I can’t wait to try it out! And those paper plate pumpkins are adorable!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 17, 2011 at 10:20 pm - Reply

      Thank you! All made by my little artists!

  10. Kimira October 17, 2011 at 9:33 pm - Reply

    Nice one Deborah, Its been a while since I tried sticky contact paper with the girls, and I am sure that they will like it again. Lets put it on the agenda for today

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 17, 2011 at 10:19 pm - Reply

      Good idea:)

  11. Jamie @ hands on : as we grow October 18, 2011 at 8:50 pm - Reply

    The pumpkin vines and pumpkins do look like they’re still sitting on a gate when they’re on the cups! Its just 3D instead of 2D 🙂 Clever kids you got Deborah 🙂

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 18, 2011 at 9:38 pm - Reply

      I guess that’s true – I just needed your eye to make that observation:)

  12. Eileen Misiti October 19, 2011 at 9:03 am - Reply

    I would like to know the type of contact paper you used for the sticky table and how often you have to change it.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. October 19, 2011 at 2:51 pm - Reply

      I use whatever contact paper I have on hand that is sticky back. The contact paper in this post was a frosted contact paper. I change it after the sticky seems to not be so sticky anymore which is usually in a couple of days. I don’t leave this out all the time – I just open it when we need a new place to explore..

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