A is for Apple

A is for Apple
Written by Rachel Hoggan 

Literacy activities
We introduced the letter A with some free printable "A is for Apple" activities from Confessions of a Homeschooler . We went on a letter A hunt around the house, traced the letter A, decorated an apple tree page with magnets, and practiced spelling the word "apple." Throughout the week, we then continued to reinforce the sound of the letter A as we drove around town, encountering other "a" words.

Our books are the core of every unit we do. We make a trip to the library and search in the picture book and juvenile non-fiction sections for as many books as we can find on the topic of the week. Among those we read during our apple week were the following:

Ten Apples Up On Top!
 by Dr. Seuss
We love this silly counting book by Dr. Suess.

Apple Fractions by Jerry Pallotta
The fractions in this book are advanced for my children (ages 2 & 3), but they still enjoyed this book with little elves cutting up different types of apples. And it would be great for an older child who is learning fractions.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
This is a classic book about a kind tree who gives everything she has to a little boy.

I love the paper collage illustrations in this beautiful book that follows an apple tree through all of its seasons.

My boys always enjoy the simple text and pictures of Gail Gibbons's non-fiction picture books. This one teaches about seasons and apples in a straightforward, interesting way.

Math activities
We collected apple seeds from apples that we ate during the week, and then we used the seeds for counting practice. I cut out red apple shapes from craft foam for my son to use as counting mats.

We learned about the parts of an apple with a simple felt apple that I made. As we put together the felt apple, we labeled each part. We also watched some interesting YouTube videos about the production of apple juice and applesauce.

While some of the legends surrounding him are made up, "Johnny Appleseed" was in fact based on a real person. This website gives some great information about John Chapman, the man who gave rise to the Johnny Appleseed legends. The website also includes some fun activities for kids.

I found many cute apple craft ideas online, such as this fingerprint apple tree or these crafts at Totally Tots. But I never try to force my kids to do a craft that they aren't in the mood for. And my son just wanted to paint an apple tree instead of doing the other crafts. We pulled out the paints, and I helped him break down the process of painting an apple tree into simple steps--brown rectangle, large green circle, and small red circles. Sometimes the most simple things are the best.

Sensory Bin
The boys enjoyed pouring, scooping, digging, and just playing with a sensory bin that I created. As a base for the sensory bin, I dyed rice green and pasta red. To dye your own rice or pasta, mix rubbing alcohol (about 1/4 to 1/2 cup depending on how much pasta you are coloring), liquid food coloring (about 10 drops or so...the pasta will darken as it dries), and rice or pasta in a plastic bag. Shake it up to mix the colors and then spread it out on newspaper to dry. I involved my kids in the fun process of dying the rice and pasta. Then, I poured this colored pasta and rice to a small plastic bin along with red and green funnels, cups, shapes, and pretend apples that I already had on hand from our toy collections. When we finished the unit, I returned the toys to their homes and saved the colored rice and pasta in plastic bags for future sensory bins.

Field Trip
I try to do one hands-on activity outside the house for each of our units. If it was the right season and we lived close enough to an orchard, we would have loved to go apple picking. But since there were no apple orchards within reasonable distance, we just went to the local farmer's market for our field trip. We looked at all of the different fruits and compared them to apples--in size, color, shape, etc. The children enjoyed tasting free samples and picking out some yummy fruit to take home.

The apple theme is a perfect for including lots of cooking activities. I involved my children in all of the steps of cooking--including shopping for the ingredients--and through that we had some great hands-on math and science learning. We started by making this yummy apple crisp. We also made an as apple pie with a crumb topping (just using a basic recipe from our apple-peeler-corer-slicer handbook) and this yummy pie crust. And we even had apple shake ups as a snack because we had leftover cinnamon sugar from making the pie. The children loved shaking, rolling, mixing, measuring, and helping in whatever aspects of the cooking that they could. Using the  Apple Peeler/Corer/Slicer
was their favorite part! If you want something a little healthier, here is another darling apple snack I found online.

We played the game Hi Ho Cherry-O. The new version of the game has green apples as well as blueberries, cherries, and oranges.

We have box of instruments that boys always love to pull out when we do music time. In addition to our favorite songs that we do almost every time such as Raffi's "Shake My Sillies Out" we sang some apple-themed songs that I found online. The big hit with my boys was "Ring around the Apple Tree" to the tune of Ring around the Roses.

For even more apple ideas, you can follow my A is for Apple Board on Pinterest!

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