For those who have an apple tree (or several), fall can provide an abundance of the fruit—sometimes too much! Don’t let those extras go to waste! Here are ten ways to get the most out of your apples in preschool.
1. Visit an Apple Tree: Find a local apple tree in your area that is bearing fruit for the children to view. Ask permission from the owner for each child to pick an apple to eat.
2. Share Them: If you have an apple tree in your setting, consider hosting an apple picking day for families in your child care. Or, have the children help you place extra apples in bags to deliver to neighbors or a local shelter.
3. Sort and Count Them: Provide a large basket of apples for the children to sort by color or size. Count each color, each size, and the total number of apples.
4. Introduce Fractions and Division: Provide a whole apple, an apple cut in half, and an apple sliced into fourths for the children to observe and divide.
5. Scoop Them: Fill a large tub with water and add several apples. Provide ladles or strainers for the children to practice scooping out the apples.
6. Peel Them: Purchase or borrow an apple corer/peeler machine to show children a quick way to peel the skins off the apples. Wash the apples first so the children can eat the vitamin-packed skins! (Consider providing organic apples if you are unsure of pesticide use.)
7. Cut Them: Provide apple slices for the children to practice cutting with plastic knives. Sprinkle cinnamon and a bit of sugar over the tops and serve for a snack.
8. Mash Them: Make homemade apple sauce together. Allowing the children to mash the cooked apples after they cool will provide a great motor experience!
9. Bake Them: Find a great apple dessert recipe that the children can help you bake. Give each child a special job and serve the finished product as a snack. Some great recipes can be found at http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/ingredient/apple
10. Salvage Damaged Apples: Use damaged apples in the following activities rather than eating them.
- Rolling Contest: Have each child choose a damaged apple. Hold a contest to see which apples roll the farthest.
- Fresh Food: Cut around bruised/damaged flesh and place chunks of the good portions into mesh bags or on a bird feeding tray. Hang the bag from a tree branch or place the feeding trays on sturdy branches or on the ground for the birds to enjoy.
- Investigate: Cut damaged apples in half, and provide magnifying glasses for children to explore both the skin and inside. How many bruises are there? What do the children think created the holes in the apple? What happens when the inside of the fruit is exposed to air for a long period of time? (Remind children that these apples are for observing instead of eating.)
- Apple Prints: Clean off the apples and use them as stamps. Cut some apples in half vertically and some horizontally. Provide paint in shallow containers, and demonstrate how to press the apple halves into paint and then stamp them onto paper. Compare the prints. Which ones look like stars?