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Fall is just beginning to come to the beautiful rolling farmland of Ohio. The last few days the air has begun to turn crisp, the nights are cool, and soon the trees will turn the most fantastic hues. I never tire of it.
For our family, fall also means apples! Many years ago, we started making apple cider, which as become a much-cherished tradition. We all look forward to apple cider time!
I realize not everyone has the ability or interest in making apple cider, so I thought it would be fun to create an apple-themed preschool mini unit study to celebrate Fall. This was a great way for me to sneak in some learning for the little guy!
There are so many engaging, hands-on ways you can use apples to introduce a variety of subjects:
Counting and Number Recognition
Ten Apples Up on Top, by Dr. Seuss and Ten Red Apples, by Pat Hutchins are two great books for teaching number recognition and counting. My younger kids never tire of counting every. single. apple. on top of the animals' heads in Ten Apples Up on Top!
I created some simple activities to go along with these books that encourage number recognition. The first are counting cards that can be printed, laminated, and used over and over.
Then I found these awesome Attribute Apples on Amazon, which make a great complement to this unit study. The uses are endless. They can be used for counting, colors, size discrimination, sorting, and pretend play. Melissa and Doug also has a nice, sturdy Magnetic Wand Number Maze.
The second activity is for the child to stack apples on the animal heads, count them, and then place the appropriate number in the box:
And, of course, it's way more fun when the kids get to try it themselves with real apples! Kinesthetic learners would really enjoy trying to balance apples on their heads. :-)
You'll need something to do with all those bruised apples, so why not try making some applesauce with this simple, slow cooker recipe that even your little ones can help with:
One of my favorite character-building books, although not directly apple-themed, is a perfect addition to any apple unit study: Wyatt's Wagon, by Gary Bower. While helping his grandpa pick apples in his orchard for making applesauce, Wyatt learns a lesson in including others, even when they haven't been kind to you. A great lesson for anyone to learn! There's also The Apple King, by Francesca Bosca (a lesson in unselfishness).
By the way, several years ago at a Teach Them Diligently Conference, I discovered this husband-wife team and their amazing character-building books. I love how they are able to combine beautiful oil-painted illustrations, moral instruction and a good story. These books make thoughtful gifts and are an excellent addition to any family library.
Science and Narration
If you'd like to include an informational book on apples, I personally like Gail Gibbon's Apples. In all of her books, she uses easy-to-understand text and simple illustrations. There's also How Do Apples Grow, by Betsy Maestro.
The following download can be used in conjunction with Gibbon's book (or a similar book) or alone to allow your child practice narration. You might have them tell you the life cycle of an apple tree or make up a fictional story (i.e., a day in the life of an apple).
There are also two pictures for apple narration. I consider these activities a precursor to storytelling and, eventually, creative writing. Some children are naturally verbose and creative in this way, but others need some prompting. You can ask leading questions, such as "What do you think the girls are doing in this picture?" (there are narration prompts included with the pictures.)
Of course, no apple unit study would be complete without at least one letter A recognition sheet.
A great way to incorporate art into this unit study, is to create four apple trees that show the different seasons. This idea was prompted by The Seasons of Arnold's Apple Tree, by Gail Gibbons, which is packed with information. I created printables to make it easier:
We use acrylic paints with q-tips, paintbrushes and sometimes fingers. But you can really use anything: bits of colored or textured paper, crayon/marker, watercolor, puffy paints, finger paints, chalk, etc.
Another way to incorporate art into your unit study is through a Charlotte Mason-styled picture study. Find a quality work of art and have your child study for a few minutes. Then, turn it over and ask the child to narrate what they saw. Afterward, you can turn it back over and look at it together, discussing things you see. Here are some links to paintings with apples in them:
Gross and Fine Motor Skills
The preschool years are the time to lay the foundation for later learning by improving gross and fine motor skills. Much of the "play" that children engage in during this time, naturally develops and fine-tunes these skills.
Coloring and playdough are simple tools for building fine motor skills. The Best Ideas for Kids has a great Apple Pie playdough recipe that you can use with the printable playdough mats I've created.
I also have a simple apple coloring sheet. An alternative activity would be to lay a sheet of paper over the apple and have the child trace it. Or, tear up bits of paper or tissue paper and glue them down, making an apple mosaic. (Gluing bits of paper is another good way to work on fine motor skills!)
This apple-themed lacing activity is also good for building fine motor skills and keeping a little one busy while Mom works with an older student.
Other Great Books
There were so many books to choose from for this unit study, it was hard to narrow it down! Here are a few more great picks to round out your unit study, if you have the time. Some of these would be good to include if you have an older child who will be joining in. (Even though this unit study is geared toward preschool, I will still include my six-year-old in the story-time aspect, as well as some of the art and narration.) Most of the books in this post should be at your local library.
As always, I hope these resources are a blessing to you and your family! To download all the apple-themed unit study printables, click on the image below.
If you enjoyed these free resources, be sure to check out our other homeschooling resources and curriculum.
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