Home Preschool Apple Unit
We are kicking off the new school year with one of my favorite units...APPLES!
Nothing says the start of school like a bright red apple. We did an apple unit last year around this time too and E just loved it. I know we will be repeating some activities, but I am excited to see how she will interpret them this year versus last. The new year brings with it some new challenges since I now have a very active 15 month old running around. I am trying to include him in as much as possible while also using nap time to our advantage by doing some more one on one reading and writing work with E. Any other home school mamas with different ages? I'd love to hear your tips and tricks.
We started our unit with a family trip to the apple orchard. It was a bit of a drive, but it was so worth it to give them an up close experience. Plus, there was pie. I'll drive for pie!
It sparked some conversations about how the apples grow and gave Emmett his first real apple orchard experience. He loved walking through the rows of trees and exploring all the apples on the ground. Emerson was great at scoping out the best apples. She loved picking them all by herself.
Monday we started out with making our own cut paper apples with paper plates, squares/rectangles of red paper, paper seeds and leaves made from their hands. This is a great activity to work on fine motor skills like cutting, gluing and picking up the small pieces of paper.
Up next we did our apple taste test. This was a really fun activity, even for me! I had never tried a bunch of apples back to back before and it was interesting to see which ones we all liked and which ones we didn't. Emmett has been climbing a lot lately so don't mind him sitting on the table. You have to choose your battles and that was one I was willing to let slide since he wanted to be a part of the action.
Here are our final results! I try to make graphs with Emerson quite often. It's a great way to introduce how to read charts and graphs and incorporates more math into our fun activities.
Next we got ready for our apple experiment. I first saw this idea here and thought we would give it a try. Emerson helped get the apples into the cups and pour all of the liquids in.
We used lemon juice, vinegar, coffee, water and left one without liquid as a control. I put them on the windowsill to keep them out of the way. I may have forgotten about them so they sat for a few days...oops!
Here's what they looked like after.
If you are wondering why E has that awful face and why there are little black floaties in some of the cups it would be because they started to mold. Yeah, blame it on my mom brain. It was interesting to see that the control apples just shriveled up a bit and didn't mold, while some of the others did. Can you guess which one didn't mold at all? Yup that's right, the vinegar! It was also the stinkiest one.
We ended our day with good 'ol fashioned apple stamp painting. This one is always a hit the first time you do it because they get to see the star pattern hidden inside the apples if you slice them in the middle. This was also a great project for both kids to do together. Emmett was chewing on a giant piece of apple the whole time.
Tuesday we got a bit of a late start because, you know, mornings are hard. I always find that the first week it's hard to get into the routine again. I also had forgotten to prepare our apple tree math game so I had to make that super quick! If you want instructions on how to make your own check out my tutorial here.
Since it was a late start Emmett missed out on most of the activities because he was napping. It gave me some quality one on one time with Emerson though which was great.
Emerson did really well matching the correct number clothespin to the trees. I have definitely seen an improvement on her recognition of numbers and she has mastered counting to 12. She still gets a bit tripped up in the teens so that will be one of the things we continue to work on this year.
We took full advantage of a sleeping toddler by having fun with one of our favorite sensory mediums...Cloud Dough! It is super easy to make and provides tons of fun! It can be pretty messy and Emmett still tends to stick most things in his mouth so I didn't mind that he missed out on this one. Especially since I didn't have enough cooking oil and had to use baby oil instead. Emerson and I had a great time playing with it though. I added some green pipe cleaner pieces for stems and she liked using the whisk to pretend she was mixing a pie.
Wednesday we combined science and art to make Fizzy Apple Art. Both kids really enjoyed this activity. I found the tutorial here. We didn't have the citric acid so we just used colored vinegar. I will use more food coloring next time because ours ended up lighter than I wanted. We will definitely be using this method again in the future because both kids loved it!
Next up was Apple Tree Color Sort. This is a great activity for fine motor work, color recognition and early math skills like sorting by color, and size. I originally saw this idea from Tot School. Luckily I had everything already on hand, including the velcro stickers. Emerson was a pro at sorting by color and size. She had fun adding all the pom poms and then using the trees for some pretend play later in the day. Emmett worked on his fine motor skills by picking up the pom poms and either attaching them to the velcro or hiding them inside the toilet paper tubes.
Thursday was a busy day full of apple activities. We started with making our very own Apple Boats! This activity is an awesome way to introduce problem solving, creative thinking and engineering. I let Emerson lead the way on this one and we experimented with a few different designs to see what would work.
First we tried a round slice of apple and that one actually stayed up! We then decided to play around with different sizes and shapes of apple wedges and found that just a whole half an apple really worked best. We also noticed that the apples would tip over if the sail was too heavy so we tried toothpicks and wood skewers to see which worked best. Toothpicks seemed to work well with our apples which may have been because they were small. Emerson enjoyed experimenting with the different variables and Emmett enjoyed eating most of his boat. That kid loves food!
These activities were easier for Emerson this year, especially the pattern cards. They are a simple ABAB format so we used the apple pieces to create our own patterns instead. It took her a few tries to get the hang of it. We made a game of it where one of us would close our eyes and the other would make a pattern. Then you had to guess what the pattern was. Once she understood that it needed to repeat she made a pretty great one. See if you can see it below.
Our final activity was making homemade applesauce. Emerson helped me wash and count the apples. She tried to use the peeler but became too frustrated. I gave her a plate and plastic knife to try cutting with. She was able to do a few, but then decided to instead just put the apples in the pot for me. Eventually she lost interest and it was just me in the kitchen.
Friday mornings Emerson goes to a Drop and Go art class so we don't always do activities. We chose not to do activities this Friday so after class we stopped for donuts and enjoyed the park.
Phew! It was quite a week. I hope you found some inspiration and ideas for your own apple unit. Follow along for more preschool units and activities throughout the year.