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Transform your next reading lesson from ordinary to magical with a pumpkin! Cover main idea and details in a way that your students will never forget. 

By the end of October, sugar has become airborne. The students are hyper and just want to play. When no one is looking, they sneak another piece of candy. The sugar oozes from every pore in their bodies. Teachers grasp for ways to keep the students engaged. 

The weather is not cooperating. Crisp cool days beg one to come out to explore. When the sugar crash comes, you students eyes will follow the path of the single leaf slowly drifting to the ground outside your classroom window. You need something to capture their attention!

Pumpkin Main Idea Lesson Plan

This is a great lesson that can be done with any story. Yes, you can even use it with the curriculum you are required to use. That is what I actually first wrote this plan for. You can do the steps all in one day or over the course of multiple days. Either way, your students will still love it!

I have successfully used this plan with 3rd, 5th, and 6th grade students. It is truly one of those great ideas that you will be coming back to year after year regardless of what grade level you teach.

Supplies Needed

1 pumpkin per group


Black Sharpie Markers


2 Spoons per group

Paper Towels

1 piece of construction paper per student



A Story to Read

Group Work

After reading the story, have your students discuss what the main idea of the story is. Once the group has come to a consensus, using the Sharpie, have them write the main idea on one side of their pumpkin.

Note: If you plan on turning your pumpkin into a Jack-o-lantern later (or sending it home with a student for this reason) make sure the writing is only on one side so you do not have a “tattooed pumpkin” or a “scar face pumpkin” as my students have called them in the past.

Time to Get Messy

Teachers cut open the top of the pumpkin. I do not let my students ever cut open the pumpkins. I am quite certain my principal would have a heart attack if I did.

Cover the student work area in newspapers and don’t forget the floor! Let them clean out the inside of the pumpkins. I recommend waiting for another day for the next part of this activity but you can do it the same day.

Individual Assignment

Part 1: Have your students discuss what the details of the story words. These are the parts that support their main idea.

Part 2: Have students glue 1 seed onto their paper. Next to the seed they need to write down the detail for the story. Repeat as needed for as many supporting details as they can think of. Remind them to put their name and date on their paper. I require my students to have a minimum of 3.

Part 3: Discuss afterwards how the details are part of the main idea just like the seeds are part of the pumpkin. If your students are younger do this before the individual activity. If your students are older, do this afterwards as we want them to make their own connections.

Interdisciplinary Connection

Want to take this lesson plan to the next level? We can add math and science into the GET MESSY portion of this lesson plan.

– Have your students weigh and measure your pumpkin. You can use this to create a graph later.

– Count the number of lines on your pumpkin and when you open it up the number of seeds inside.

– Have your student write a poem about their pumpkin

– Have the students write out the procedure for cleaning out the pumpkin step by step

–  Have the student create a poster about the pumpkin life cycle

The best thing that you can do in October is send a letter home to parents asking for pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. What you can do in a classroom with a pumpkin in October is truly magical!