A is for Apple

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I have a gnarly, old apple tree in my back yard that the children love to climb on.  Usually it is loaded with sweet, crunchy golden delicious apples that I help them pick and they can munch on them during outdoor play.  Unfortunately, this spring we had a hard frost the killed most of the buds and so I harvested about two apples this fall!  Luckily we have Allred Orchard’s Fruit Barn close by and so I can get local apples for the littles and me to eat.

This week we again talked about the letter A.  However, this time we focused on its short sound, as in “apple”.

Invitation to Play:

For this week’s invitation to play, I adapted an idea that I saw on “Fantastic Fun and Learning”, an Apple Play Dough Invitation to Play  I made apple scented playdough using my favorite playdough recipe, which I originally found on the “Small & Friendly” website.  However, I eliminated the pumpkin pie spice, and instead added apple flavoring and used red food coloring.

Pumpkin Spice Playdough

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup of salt (a little more if you use kosher)
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil*
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice (or a mix of cinnamon/nutmeg/cloves)
  • optional: food coloring or natural food based dyes (such as beet juice and turmeric)

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients (except coloring) in a large pot.
  2. Stir over medium heat until a big ball forms. (It should be smooth and no longer sticky.)
  3. Remove from pot and allow to cool until the dough can be worked by hand.
  4. Divide the dough into however many different colors you want.
  5. Work the colors into the dough by adding a few drops at a time and kneading. (We used food coloring for red, yellow, and orange and left one brown.  Similar colors could be achieved with natural juices: beet, carrot, turmeric.)
  6. Enjoy!

* Coconut oil is my secret ingredient.  It makes the best play dough ever.  If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it.

To extend the invitation, I set out small twigs, dried beans to represent apple seeds, and silk leaves in a tray.  I also put out our collection of rolling pins.  Any invitation with playdough as a part of it is always popular with the littles, and this one was no exception!  They loved it, even though they didn’t really do anything “appley” with it.  They had a lot of fun sticking the beans into the playdough.  They also went and got some of the small plastic animals that we have and created imaginary scenes and stories, which actually makes me really happy.  Free, imaginative, self-directed and creative play  means that these littles are deeply engaged in their work of experiential learning.

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Circle Time

On Monday and Tuesday for circle time I taught the children the “Juicy Apple Song” sung to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star:

Apples juicy, Apples round,
On the tees and on the ground.
Apples yellow, Apples red,
Apple sauce and pie and bread.
Apples crunchy, Apples sweet,
Apples are so good to eat!

We learned a fingerplay:

Way up high in the apple tree (Wave arms back and forth over head)
Five red apples smiled down at me (hold up hand with all 5 fingers spread out)
I shook that tree as hard as I could (pretend to shake the trunk of a tree)
Doowwwnnn came an apple! (flutter your fingers down and then pretend to eat the apple)
My, it was good! (smile and rub tummy)

There is the greatest fun in chanting these conventional “5, 4, 3, 2, 1” rhymes, and this one is especially satisfying with the munching and crunching lip-smacking as we pantomimed eating our apples.

I told the children the story of “The Little Red House With No Door And No Windows And A Star Inside “.  There are many different versions of this story, however this is one that I particularly enjoy.  At the end of the story, when I took a knife and cut an apple horizontally to show the littles the star inside they were fascinated.  I passed around the apple halves and each one took quite a bit of time examining the star for themselves!

And, we bobbed for apples….sort of!  I used a rectangular, plastic bin filled with just enough water for the apples to float.  Consequently, the littles were able to push the apples down to the bottom of the bin for just enough stability so that they could at least take a bite out of the apple!  Any sort of contact at all was deemed a success and we gave each person a rousing cheer!  Most of the children eagerly bobbed for apples.  However, there were a couple who did not want to put their faces in the water, and that was just fine.  I gave them a wooden spoon to fish out their apple and they were cheered just as loudly as the others.

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For our Wednesday and Thursday Circle Times we repeated the song, rhyme and story that I previously taught.  For young children repetition is important.  Not only is there comfort and security for them in repetition, but Dr. Jane Healey in her book, Endangered Minds: Why Children Don’t Think And What We Can Do About It, asserts that repetition is critical to the development of the young child’s brain.  And so during circle time, I am constantly repeating with the children poems and stories that we have learned in previous weeks.

Then we tasted apples.  We tasted Jazz apples and Gala apples.  We tasted Golden Delicious apples and Red Delicious apples.  And we tasted Honey Crisp apples and Granny Smith apples.  And we rated the apples on a little chart asking ourselves 3 questions.  Do I love this apple?  Is it just okay? Or, is this not my favorite apple at all?

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Art Projects:

  1.  We printed on muslin banners using apples cut both vertically and horizontally.  I cut 5×8 inch pieces of muslin and hemmed about a 1-inch casing at the top.  Into the casing I inserted a stick and attached a piece of twine so that the banner could be hung.  Then I let the children print the banners by dipping apple halves in red or green tempera paint.

2.  We made Apple Coffee Filter Suncatchers  I have made suncatchers using coffee filters before, but I really liked this idea on the “Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas” website  of using an apple shape to frame the suncatcher–plus she includes a template for the apple!

3.  We made yarn wrapped apples.  I cut apple shapes out of a piece of cardboard.  I cut a notch in the top of the apple shape and inserted the knotted end of a long piece of red yarn.  Then I let the children wrap the yarn around the apple.  This is great fine motor practice.  The littles were really varied in their abilities to wrap the yarn, which is why there aren’t a lot of pictures!

4.  Our fourth art project this week was to paint apple shapes with puffy paint.  I got the recipe for the puffy paint from The Artful Parent website.  It is the best recipe for puffy paint that I have tried as yet.  To make the puffy paint you will need:

  • 3+ cups of shaving cream (foam not gel)
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup white glue, such as Elmer’s
  • Food coloring or paint

Measure out all of the ingredients except for the food coloring into a bowl.  Gently mix the shaving cream, flour and glue together.  You want to keep the mixture as fluffy as possible.  Divide the paint between 3 or 4 small bowls and add food coloring to each and mix.  I colored my foam paint red, yellow and green.  Spoon the puffy paint into ziplock sandwich bags.  Seal the bags closed and use duct tape for an extra strong seal.  Snip off a small corner of the plastic bag and squeeze the foamy paint onto your paper.  I used heavy watercolor paper, but you could also use heavy cardstock, poster board, paper plates or foam craft sheets.

                        Keep me as the apple of thine eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings.                                                                            Psalms 17:8

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