Here in Indiana, autumn can be a terrific time to get out of the house and have a field trip or do some school outdoors as the weather finally begins to cool and the humidity levels decrease. There are so many tactile experiences available as well that it’s not difficult to find ways to take a break from the workbooks and still learn.
Fall Field Trips—Apples!
Orchards can make amazing field trips, whether organized with a tour or with your own family. Depending on your choice of orchard, you could pick apples from the tree, explore a pumpkin patch, or get lost in a corn maze…and learn about corn while you’re following the signs to find your way out. (Due to COVID-19 restrictions in place this fall, check with your local orchard before you go to see what is open and if you need to make reservations. Fees may apply as well.)
Apples and School
Johnny Appleseed is known for planting apple orchards across the Midwest, but he was also on a mission to spread the gospel. He would often leave a tract or a page from a book of the Bible at each frontier cabin where he stopped. As you watch the video in the first link and read the articles in the second two links, you may want to discuss the sacrifices Johnny Appleseed made to carry out his personal mission. How do you think he introduced himself to the people he met as he traveled? What do you admire the most about him? Would you be willing to live a life like his?
Besides being such a useful fruit for eating and drinking (think cider), apples lend themselves naturally to science experiments.
Want to grow an apple tree? Well, it can be rather difficult to grow a tree that produces edible fruit. How about watching seeds sprout? A wet paper towel and some whole seeds sealed in a plastic baggie could produce some sprouts.
Have you wondered why apples turn brown after you cut them up, or what types of liquids act as a preservative for apples? Try this simple experiment.
For students who are a little older, this similar experiment details the steps in the scientific method and involves more options for preservatives.
If you want to delve even further into the science of fruit trees, this video explains grafting for beginners, the process by which parts of trees (typically limbs) are joined to continue their growth together. Grafting can encourage hardiness, sturdiness, and increased disease resistance, as well as create a tree that grows two different varieties of apples.
What about math with apples? For the littlest learners, start with simple counting, such as counting how many apples can fit in a bag. With my children, I used lunchtime as an opportunity to cut up apples to demonstrate fractions. Starting with one whole apple, I would cut it in half, creating two halves. Each half would then be cut to create four fourths and then on to eight eighths. You can take this as far as you can slice—just be careful of your fingers!
The following includes a more detailed explanation as well as a free printable worksheet.
Remember Johnny Appleseed from above? This video features “Justin Appleseed,” (complete with a pot on his head) demonstrating fractions with apples.
There are so many great books about apples. You can read these aloud to your children or maybe they will enjoy reading them to you. Besides enjoying the main topic—apples—you can discuss the characters, conflict, theme, and more. Here are a few my children recommend.
Of course, you can always rely on your public library to have an autumn-themed display filled with books about fall, and maybe even apples.
Why not finish out your apple learning by baking a few treats? Skills learned in the kitchen are an important part of life. Let’s call it Home Ec.
These baked apple treats look super easy and amazingly delicious.
Apple pie is always a fantastic fall dessert, but it can be a little difficult as well as time-consuming for little hands working with you in the kitchen. But these cute apple pie bites look perfect for children to help roll up.
Have fun and enjoy fall while you add some learning into the mix!