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Jack-o-Lantern DNA Pumpkin Carving Activity - Learning About Traits



I entered a contest for teachers that a local pumpkin patch was hosting, and we won a pumpkin for every student! What on earth is a science teacher to do with this many pumpkins?! We happened to be on our DNA unit and I thought about DNA extraction, but I wanted the kids to be able to have something neat to take home with them. Aha! We shall carve! I ordered a few of these pumpkin carving kits off of amazon and brought in a big tarp for them to work on.


We used 2 coins for flipping to determine which type of trait they got. For instance, if they rolled two heads, it would be the dominant trait for that category. I only did a few traits as we don't have much time, and I wanted them to have a little freedom for creativity adding extras to their pumpkins but we ended up adding a few more traits to our list. Once they had all of their traits circled, they drew them on the blank pumpkin as a guide for when they started carving. The tarp made it super easy to clean up, and left no messy guts or seeds anywhere. I also brought in little battery operated candles for them to add.


If you are unable to get your hands on this many pumpkins or are not able to use the carving kits in class, an alternative would be to have one big class pumpkin. You could have the kids flip their coins for traits and then you carve them in for them to see.

They can all circle the traits the class got and draw the pumpkin's chosen traits on their paper. (printable here). Another alternative would be using foam carvable pumpkins, I am not sure where you could get these, maybe Walmart or Michael's, but I am positive they go on sale after Halloween!


They loved this activity and it was a really great way for them to learn about how our DNA is responsible for what traits we have! All of their Jack-o-Lanterns turned out awesome!



If you are looking for a short video explaining how traits work, here is a great one from the Amoeba Sisters to go along with your lesson:


Check out our other fall resources and activities too:






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