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Let’s Pick Some Apples – A Fall Preschool Activity

In many parts of the country, the beginning of the school year coincides with the time when apples or other fruits are being harvested.  A field trip to an apple orchard or cider mill offers a wonderful opportunity for experiential learning.

This activity will be most beneficial if there are conversations in your preschool classroom to prepare for the trip and also classroom conversations to reflect on the trip.

Before the trip, ask your preschoolers what they know about apples – what are they, how do they taste, where do they come from, how do they get to the table, what are the differences between apples, apple sauce and apple juice, and so forth.  Make sure the children know what to expect during the field trip.

After the trip, talk with the children about their experience.  Translating personal experience into language that can share that experience with others is a developmental goal in early childhood.

At the apple orchard help the children pick apples. There are usually several varieties and colors, so make sure to get some of each. At the cider mill the apples will be weighed and purchased.  Before you get there, talk with the children about what they think has to happen before they can take the apples home.  If appropriate, introduce the concepts of weight and money.

Take time to look at the cider mill in operation. Note how the apples are put into a hopper and then crushed or squeezed until there is a steady stream of liquid-cider or apple juice. The remaining pulp can be used as fertilizer or animal feed.

Is there a way you can talk to children about this?  Or can you arrange beforehand for the owner of the cider mill to talk about the orchard, the press, and related topics?

If your orchard doesn’t have a cider press, cut the apples into slices, place in a sieve and squeeze the apple observing the liquid produced

Make sure you take photographs of apples and apple cider so you can review this activity when the children investigate properties of matter.

A related activity that can help preschool children learn about making a chart is shown in a ScienceStart! lesson plan.  This science lesson plan for preschoolers involves looking at apples of different colors, predicting which will taste the best, then, after each child tastes a piece of each color, comparing children’s predictions to their choices.

Emphasizing the Science:

Even though field trips can be fun without helping children learn science, they offer an ideal opportunity to support children in acquiring both Science Content and Science Processes. Section 1 briefly identifies the science content supported by this field trip.  Section 2 lists six basic science process skills.  Teachers can use this list as a planning tool to structure the three segments of the field trip (preview, trip, review) to maximize children’s opportunities to practice the process skills.

Science Content:

  • Life Cycle of Apple Trees
  • Harvesting Apples for Food
  • Apples come in Several Varieties
  • Changing Solid Apples into Liquid Apple Cider/Juice
  • (Often a change in state of matter from solid to liquid involves a change in temperature; with apples the change is caused by pressure.)
  • Nutrition

Science Process Skills: Teachers can plan how to incorporate the following processes into each of the three segments of the fieldtrip (preview, trip, review).

  • Observe
  • Describe
  • Classify/Sort
  • Measure
  • Infer/Reach a Conclusion
  • Predict

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