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September 26, 2016

Early Childhood Teaching With Apples

By Elaine Winter
Grades PreK–K

    Apples! Teachers know this autumn bounty for what it is: a primo contributor to fall curriculum development (and the star ingredient in a recipe you'll find at the end of this post!). What would we do without apples!? They offer us a chance to:

    • integrate many areas of learning in a single project

    • bring nature into our classrooms — or actually go outdoors into nature

    • extend, map, and document our findings

    • keep learning authentic and hands on

    • engage preschoolers in one of the activities they like best: eating

    In this post I'd like to investigate curriculum integration: looking at the range of ways this fall fruit lends itself to early childhood learning.

    As I begin to shape curriculum, I wonder what does this group of children actually know about apples? Do they know how they grow, what they look like inside, that there are different kinds, and that they are classified as fruit? I introduce apples during a meeting discussion and wait to hear from the children. This gives me an idea of how to proceed.

    Literacy

    I read a selection of these beautifully illustrated books: Autumn Is for Apples by Michelle Knudsen, Growing Apples and Pumpkins by Richard Hutchings and Amy Hutchings, Apples by Jenne Simon.

    Autumn is for Apples book jacket

    Apples book jacket

     

    With very young children, I might introduce a rhyme such as this one:

    Red red apples, red red apples, hanging on the tree.

    One for Karin, one for Luca, and one for me.

    Red tomato, red tomato, cut into three.

    One for Molly, one for Davey, and one for me.

     

     

     

     

    Social Studies

    Our Fours class makes weekly visits to a small, nearby farmers market. Children notice how many different kinds and colors of apples there are. They interview the farmer about her work. Some schools, I know, have the possibility of visiting apple orchards where children can pick their very own apples right off the trees. What a powerful experience for children!

    Science

    Back in the classroom, one of our teachers, Nancy, slices two apples: one green and one red, offering children a taste of each. Language enters into this process. "How does the red apple taste?" "Sweet, sour, crunchy, like a plum?" She asks children to raise their hands to indicate their preference. Then she asks them to graph it. "Let's see which one was your favorite?" Nancy makes sure that each 3-year-old has her own small picture card, and places one green and one red apple in front of her. One by one, she calls each child forward to place their picture in front of their favorite color apple. Once everyone has contributed, she helps them to read this graph: "Which apple is our class favorite?" "How can you tell?" If a child volunteers that one of the lines is longer (or taller), Nancy can push further, probing for words that indicate a correlation between length and quantity. Finally, to prove that this is so, Nancy and her class count each one of the cards. "Which row has more?" "'How do you know?"

    Math

    Sometimes Cathy, a 3- and 4-year-olds teacher, uses apples to measure. How many apples long are you?

    Art

    Later in the week, our art teacher Eileen asks children to talk about the different colors of apples they've encountered. She provides them with "apple-colored'' paints for the easel. If children have representational skills, she may introduce the notion of a group mural that, in some way, contains an apple tree or two.

     

    Cooking Project

    Now, let's tackle cooking: the indisputable queen bee of integrated project learning. Without any effort whatsoever, our cooking projects include:

    Math — measurement including fractions, sequencing, prediction, and estimation

    Science — change (dry to wet, liquid to solid, cold to hot), the sources of our ingredients (where do they grow?), cleanliness, and nutrition

    Fine Motor Skills — mixing, measuring, dipping, ladling, slicing, beating

    Social Studies — ethnic traditions (bread baking), global food origins (what grows where), and interviews with farmers and shopkeepers about their jobs

    Language — all those delicious cooking terms such as mixing, sifting, basting, rising, dicing, kneading

    Sensory Awareness — touching, sniffing, tasting!

    When it comes to cooking, I rely heavily on my colleagues since, full disclosure, I can manage a meal in my own little kitchen, but baking with a group of young children is a source of high anxiety: talking, teaching, coaxing, calming, measuring . . . a multi-tasking circus!

    With that disclaimer, here are a few PreK teacher cooking tips:

    1. Decide on the size of your group according to the complexity of the cooking or baking task and the number of available jobs for each child. If you make it a small group project, rotate other children in.

    2. Ensure that your assistant teacher is monitoring the rest of the class. We refer to this as "eyes around the room." In other words, he or she is mobile and can step in where needed while you focus on your chefs.

    3. Plan ahead so that children are able to perform as many steps as possible.

    4. Consider using a recipe chart with simple pictures and words.

    5. Discuss turn-taking before you begin, doing your best to help children wait with some degree of patience.

    6. Talk about change: Which kinds of changes are reversible and which are not?

    7. Measure dry and wet ingredients separately, before combining them. Choose measurements appropriate for your group's skills and level of understanding. If they are not ready for standardized measurement in September, ease them in that direction by beginning with the basics such as cup and tablespoon.

    Finally, what to cook? I've attached an applesauce recipe ... with a twist (thanks Cathy!). If you have another idea for apples (or applesauce!), please share with everyone in the comments.

    Apples! Teachers know this autumn bounty for what it is: a primo contributor to fall curriculum development (and the star ingredient in a recipe you'll find at the end of this post!). What would we do without apples!? They offer us a chance to:

    • integrate many areas of learning in a single project

    • bring nature into our classrooms — or actually go outdoors into nature

    • extend, map, and document our findings

    • keep learning authentic and hands on

    • engage preschoolers in one of the activities they like best: eating

    In this post I'd like to investigate curriculum integration: looking at the range of ways this fall fruit lends itself to early childhood learning.

    As I begin to shape curriculum, I wonder what does this group of children actually know about apples? Do they know how they grow, what they look like inside, that there are different kinds, and that they are classified as fruit? I introduce apples during a meeting discussion and wait to hear from the children. This gives me an idea of how to proceed.

    Literacy

    I read a selection of these beautifully illustrated books: Autumn Is for Apples by Michelle Knudsen, Growing Apples and Pumpkins by Richard Hutchings and Amy Hutchings, Apples by Jenne Simon.

    Autumn is for Apples book jacket

    Apples book jacket

     

    With very young children, I might introduce a rhyme such as this one:

    Red red apples, red red apples, hanging on the tree.

    One for Karin, one for Luca, and one for me.

    Red tomato, red tomato, cut into three.

    One for Molly, one for Davey, and one for me.

     

     

     

     

    Social Studies

    Our Fours class makes weekly visits to a small, nearby farmers market. Children notice how many different kinds and colors of apples there are. They interview the farmer about her work. Some schools, I know, have the possibility of visiting apple orchards where children can pick their very own apples right off the trees. What a powerful experience for children!

    Science

    Back in the classroom, one of our teachers, Nancy, slices two apples: one green and one red, offering children a taste of each. Language enters into this process. "How does the red apple taste?" "Sweet, sour, crunchy, like a plum?" She asks children to raise their hands to indicate their preference. Then she asks them to graph it. "Let's see which one was your favorite?" Nancy makes sure that each 3-year-old has her own small picture card, and places one green and one red apple in front of her. One by one, she calls each child forward to place their picture in front of their favorite color apple. Once everyone has contributed, she helps them to read this graph: "Which apple is our class favorite?" "How can you tell?" If a child volunteers that one of the lines is longer (or taller), Nancy can push further, probing for words that indicate a correlation between length and quantity. Finally, to prove that this is so, Nancy and her class count each one of the cards. "Which row has more?" "'How do you know?"

    Math

    Sometimes Cathy, a 3- and 4-year-olds teacher, uses apples to measure. How many apples long are you?

    Art

    Later in the week, our art teacher Eileen asks children to talk about the different colors of apples they've encountered. She provides them with "apple-colored'' paints for the easel. If children have representational skills, she may introduce the notion of a group mural that, in some way, contains an apple tree or two.

     

    Cooking Project

    Now, let's tackle cooking: the indisputable queen bee of integrated project learning. Without any effort whatsoever, our cooking projects include:

    Math — measurement including fractions, sequencing, prediction, and estimation

    Science — change (dry to wet, liquid to solid, cold to hot), the sources of our ingredients (where do they grow?), cleanliness, and nutrition

    Fine Motor Skills — mixing, measuring, dipping, ladling, slicing, beating

    Social Studies — ethnic traditions (bread baking), global food origins (what grows where), and interviews with farmers and shopkeepers about their jobs

    Language — all those delicious cooking terms such as mixing, sifting, basting, rising, dicing, kneading

    Sensory Awareness — touching, sniffing, tasting!

    When it comes to cooking, I rely heavily on my colleagues since, full disclosure, I can manage a meal in my own little kitchen, but baking with a group of young children is a source of high anxiety: talking, teaching, coaxing, calming, measuring . . . a multi-tasking circus!

    With that disclaimer, here are a few PreK teacher cooking tips:

    1. Decide on the size of your group according to the complexity of the cooking or baking task and the number of available jobs for each child. If you make it a small group project, rotate other children in.

    2. Ensure that your assistant teacher is monitoring the rest of the class. We refer to this as "eyes around the room." In other words, he or she is mobile and can step in where needed while you focus on your chefs.

    3. Plan ahead so that children are able to perform as many steps as possible.

    4. Consider using a recipe chart with simple pictures and words.

    5. Discuss turn-taking before you begin, doing your best to help children wait with some degree of patience.

    6. Talk about change: Which kinds of changes are reversible and which are not?

    7. Measure dry and wet ingredients separately, before combining them. Choose measurements appropriate for your group's skills and level of understanding. If they are not ready for standardized measurement in September, ease them in that direction by beginning with the basics such as cup and tablespoon.

    Finally, what to cook? I've attached an applesauce recipe ... with a twist (thanks Cathy!). If you have another idea for apples (or applesauce!), please share with everyone in the comments.

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