My kids look forward to our annual September apple picking field trip. We enjoy sipping apple cider slush and eating cinnamon donuts in the crisp air of an autumn afternoon. Of course the treats are enjoyed only after scouring apple trees to pick prize apples. Of course there is always the rotten apple tossing competition my son and I engage in on the side. The memories are cherished, even those of my youngest eating apples right from the tree when she was a toddler. However, it did provide a lesson in counting. My next child in line kept a tally of the half eaten and discarded apples for the clerk so we could properly reconcile. Apple picking is the way we celebrate a new school year and season.
Aside from tossing rotten apples and counting up apple contraband from a hungry toddler, orchards are ripe with lessons. While we visit the orchard we learn about cider making, apple growing, about different types of apples, and uses for apples. One of our favorite ways to use apples is to bake them in a pie. I have to confess that I do not like apple pie but the rest of the family loves it!
The learning can extend beyond the orchard. Baking pies reinforces math skills and following directions. Apples can be used as counters and for sequencing if you have different colored apples. Allowing children to draw or write about their day will encourage memory and narration skills. Cut an apple crosswise to reveal a star shaped seed pod. Small children love seeing the star and this provides an opportunity to study the star shape. Apple seeds give way to a lesson on how seeds grow into a fruit. Orchards are ripe with lessons for children of all ages. Turn things around this fall and give an apple to the student.