Apple Antics

Apple Antics September 19, 2012

Red and I took our families on an apple picking outing at a nearby family owned orchard.  This is the 4th year that we have picked apples together, and it struck me that annual projects like this really allow us to see how much our children have grown.  We brought 12 children to the orchard, but they really were easy to manage – two babies in Ergos, two toddlers helped by older sisters, two preschoolers who could walk alone, some big boys who could toss a football when they were tired of picking, lots of strong arms to help carry the bags of apples.  Seriously, we have come a long way from dragging lots of kids age 5 and under through an orchard and wondering why we were bothering.

With so many hands to pick apples, we come home with bags and bags, so we have lots of fun doing apple things.  Red and I, awesome homemakers that we are, had both planned pork dinners for the orchard night, so our first order of business was homemade applesauce.  Red makes large batches to freeze in ziplock bags, and this year I am going to do the same.

Many hands make light work, and I had a peeler and two preschool choppers (the size of the apple doesn’t really matter, so I cut quarters off the core and let them cut them up with a dinner knife).  Montessori method preschooling really pays off when you can put your kids to work in the kitchen!

We also had an older child working on Apple Crisp for dessert.  We had it again for breakfast the next morning – what a treat!

A super fun activity we did was inspired by Tex’s fall activity.  We picked 4 varieties of apples so I sliced them and put them on labelled plates.  We tasted the apples and talked about their taste and texture.  We had a good range of sweet and sour (by the way, I found this super helpful chart ).  When we felt like we knew our apples well, someone closed their eyes and we gave them an apple to taste.  The kids were pretty good at identifying the variety just based on taste.  Next, we did it with eyes open, and talked about using sight and touch to help as well – the color of the peel and the flesh, the smoothness of the peel and the shape of the apple were additional clues.

I am trying hard to focus on my preschoolers this year, so we will be doing some apple math with Ten Apples Up On Top, we will make apple star prints, we will count seeds and we will talk about fractions as we cut apples.  The second graders will bake an apple sauce cake for math on of these days.  We will all read How to Make An Apple Pie and See the World, use the globe, and bake the pie.  With little bakers, I like to let the children smell and taste each ingredient — what a surprise that vanilla tastes awful, and that straight salt is so, well, salty.

Johnny Appleseed Day is September 28th, so put your regular work aside and plan your own apple day!

Here are some of my other favorite fall and apple books.

Looking for some more fall inspiration?  Try this amazing soup!

Remember how fall book baskets were the central theme of my earliest homeschooling?  They still are!

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  • Kellie “Red”

    I love that you wrote this post because now I don’t have to! You are officially my “Fall” friend. When the season turns, I think of you. You seem to love apples, Thanksgiving, back to school, fall book baskets, and I could go on and on. I think it is great, as Fall is one of my favorite seasons but I have had little time to savor it in my life because of sports. Yesterday was a great day, and my home smells like baking apples and cinnamon, which is really fabulous.

  • maryalice

    Totally — I even love running in fall! I have always loved back to school time, but I think that I also love autumn because I associate it with falling in love with Len, which I did in the fall semester, and Princeton is so beautiful then. When I picture happy college days, it is always with leaves on the ground. I LOVE LOVE LOVE winter, and in Virginia I learned to love spring as well, but I still kind of dislike summer. This summer I liked going to the lake, where it was cold and fall-like!

  • Saoirse

    Just going to note there is a fantastic crockpot applesauce on Pinterest. It is hands down one of the best applesauce recipes ever. (not sure about posting links here – but crockpot applesauce search brings it up.) I thought I would I would have apples thru Thanksgiving after our apple picking adventure but a week later and 3 crockpots full later – I might be apple picking again this week!!

  • Thanks, this was packed with good info. Especially the link to the “apple chart”… I keep finding recipes that specify a certain type of apple and I’m clueless as to what subsitutions are okay depending on what we’re cooking, so that really helps. My sister and I just took the kids apple picking and she is scrambling for recipes, she said that normally they love apples but now that she just paid for two bags worth of farmer’s market apples, the kids aren’t interested. LOL, isn’t that always the way?
    Re: books, for children ages 0-5 my son is loving Welcome, Fall by Little Scholastic right now. It starts with apple picking and ends with an apple pie. For adults, last year I read Michael Pollan’s Botany of Desire which is divided into four chapters, and the entire first chapter deals with the history of the apple, including some tales of “Johnny Appleseed”. As someone who is neither a gardening geek nor a science geek, I have to say I absolutely loved this book and found it fascinating.