How to Plan a Pumpkin Decorating Contest

This month my school hosted its first pumpkin decorating contest.  I spent many hours searching for the best way to organize the contest, so I thought I'd sum it all up in one easy package that you can save for next year!

First, I worked with our VP and a few other teachers to narrow down the size and scope of the event.  Originally, we thought it would be fun to have the homerooms compete, but there just wasn't enough time.  We decided to open it up to our middle school (6-8) and any teacher who wanted to participate.  You can see the rules and procedures in the image below. 

Next, I got the pumpkins donated from a local nursery.  I had to call several times, but I was persistent.  We were so fortunate to have 40 pumpkins donated! 

Then, I created a google survey for sign ups, and kept it very simple.
Team Name
Homeroom Teacher

We put this picture on our school website, and then announced it over the morning news.  It's helpful to have your VP and/or tech staff on board with your project if you want to really promote.  
Students and teachers signed up using my google survey.  I handed out the pumpkins one Friday after school, and teams had one week to create their works of art. 

A week later, I collected the pumpkins in the library.  This took some juggling, and I would recommend having another person help you.  I made little index card tents with numbers, and wrote the initials of the team on the inside.  We didn't want to show the names on the outside.  I also took a picture as they were submitted, and checked their name off on my excel spreadsheet from the google survey.

Here were our great submissions! In the student category:


Aren't they fabulous!?

In the teacher category: 


I created one more google survey, which we emailed to teachers and announced over the morning news.  In the form, I placed both the collages you see above, as well as these questions: 
Favorite Student Pumpkin
Favorite Teacher Pumpkin

I tried to keep it simple so that even my low ELL's and kinder babies could vote if they wanted.  We placed the link to the form on our website, and had over 200 votes in just a few days.  I had my VP, Secretary, and two teachers vote for their favorites in the other 4 categories.  

Here are the winners!






We announced the winners on our morning announcements, and you could hear the cheering three hallways away! The Parent Teacher Association generously donated movie gift cards and candy, so I presented those to the winners in their homerooms. 

Here's my humble candy-apple pumpkin.  It didn't win, but I was pretty proud of it!


If you wanted to do this in your classroom or in your school, here are a few suggestions I would make:

  • Ask for your donations early.  I had this bright idea two weeks before October, so it was a bit of a scramble. 
  • Have a team help you distribute and collect the pumpkins. 
  • Ask your secretaries and custodians to vote on the pumpkins- really get your whole school involved.
  • Make sure you have enough prizes for ALL the kids on the winning team.
  • Make it curricular by having your upper math classes analyze your results- find out which pumpkin was most popular in grade 4, grade 6, etc.  If you ask for more demographic data in your survey you'll have more to analyze. 
  • Allow your classes time to come and see the pumpkins displayed, and then vote.  Pictures only show some of the story. 
  • If you do it with just your class, hit some speaking and listening standards by having students present their pumpkin in an expository format.
Have you organized a contest like this in your school? Any tips or tricks to add? Leave them in the comments!

1 comment:

  1. This looks like it was a lot of fun! You got some great submissions! I love the winners. How did they make that faculty one?! That is awesome. Your candy apple turned out nicely, too!

    Eclectic Educating


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