An apple theme week filled with apple activities is an exciting way to bring new knowledge and a connection to the season into your daycare. I will give you some craft ideas, songs, field trip ideas, baking ideas, books, early academic concepts, and imaginative play ideas in this article.
Studying the natural world will help children recognize the change of the season. This will help them become more accepting of change in their own lives.
Young children haven’t learned yet how to transition from one season to the next. One obstacle they may face is transitioning from t-shirts and sandals to jackets and shoes.
Including a theme week into your home daycare will help. An apple theme week will bring the children’s focus to the outside world. It’s fun to introduce the apple theme with a story and a taste activity. This theme works well in a daycare setting because the majority of young children enjoy the taste of apples.
Monday Morning: Apple Story
I like storytelling because it works to develop young imaginations. A good way to keep children who are new to storytelling focused, is to use some visual props.
In this example, I make up a short story about a gnome searching for an apple tree.
While I tell the story, I cut out a paper apple.
The events in the plot coincide with the scissor movements on the paper and the ending of the story produces the paper apple shape.
Watch the video below.
Monday Snack Time: Tasting Apples
Buy a few different varieties of apples such as McIntosh, Granny Smith and Red or Yellow Delicious. It’s nice to include apples that are red, green, yellow and then one that is both red and green.
I love to slice the apple width wise so the children can see the seeds form a star shape!
A simple chat shared with a snack will provide the children with a wealth of new information. The children will want to join in on the discussion if you make observations about the apples and ask them their opinions.
You can talk about how the inside of the apple looks different than the outside. Preschool children would be interested in identifying the apple parts (skin, core, seeds, stem, and flesh).
Give the children a piece of each type of apple and have them compare the taste.
Discuss with your group of children. Is it sweet? Juicy? Tart? Is the flesh soft or crunchy?
Have the children choose their favourite type of apple. You can work with the children to make a simple picture graph on paper to show how many people liked what type of apple the best.
Your discussion can be five minutes long to twenty minutes long depending on the ages and interest of your daycare group.
Monday Circle Time: Apple Books
I like to read stories about the subject matter when we explore a theme unit. It starts thoughtful conversations and it helps children activate their prior knowledge about the subject.
We will read story books about apples as well as non-fiction literature. These books get the children sharing their own personal experiences about apples.
When children first share their own thoughts about apples and then learn new facts it helps their brains form connections. This makes it easier for them to understand new material.
While you are reading about how the apple tree changes during the season, use this opportunity to discuss the cooler weather.
The apple trees change each season just like we change by trading t-shirt and shorts for long pants and jackets. Here are a few book suggestions that my children love.
After we read a book I put it on our theme table so the children can look at the book later at their own pace. I’ll read a different apple book each day at story time.
Tuesday Self-Directed Play Time: Theme Table
Our theme table includes books and objects that the children can touch and explore on their own.
There are wooden apple counters for the older children to make colour patterns, and cloth pretend apples for imaginary games. It’s not shown in the picture but I added real apples to the table for the children to smell and hold.
Tuesday Circle Time: Apple Songs
Most children love to learn and perform songs/poems about apples. I have listed several songs below for you to use. Make up your own simple hand motions to go with the words or have the children contribute their ideas.
Apple Poems and Songs:
Here is a video that includes a few apple songs and felt board stories.
A Little Apple Seed (tune: Eensy, Weensy, Spider)
Once a little apple seed,
Was planted in the ground.
Down came the raindrops,
Falling all around.
Out came the bright sun,
Bright as bright could be.
That little apple seed grew up,
to be an apple tree.
Two Little Apples (actions) origin unknown
Way up high in the apple tree (arms over head)
Two little apples smiled at me (hold up 2 fingers)
I shook the tree as hard as I could (shake)
Down came the apples (bring hands down)
Mmmmm, they were good (pat tummy)
Ten Little Apples
One little, two little, three little apples,
Four little, five little, six little apples,
Seven little, eight little, nine little apples,
Ten little apples on the tree.
Ten little, nine little, eight little apples,
Seven little, six little, five little apples,
Four little, three little, two little apples,
One little apple on the tree.
Five Red Apples (felt board or mitten puppet)
Five red apples grew outside our door.
____ate one, and then there were four.
Four red apples were high in our tree.
____ate one and then there were three.
Three red apples on a big branch grew.
______ate one and then there were two.
Two red apples were shining in the sun.
____ate one, and still there was one.
One red apple was the very last one.
I had to eat it, and now there are none.
Five Red Apples (finger play or foam apple tree prop) author unknown
Five red apples hanging in a tree,
The juiciest apples you ever did see.
The wind came along and gave an angry frown,
And one little apple came tumbling down.
Repeat with four red apples hanging in……etc.
Apple Treats (tune “Bingo”) Cele McCloskey
Apples falling from the trees-
What will we do now?
A-P-P-L-E, A-P-P-L-E, A-P-P-L-E,
We’ll make _________(an apple pie)
Repeat verse and end with these other options;
some apple crisp
some apple cider
some apple butter
some apple pancakes
Apple Colours (Three Blind Mice tune) Ada Goren
Red, yellow, green.
Red, yellow, green.
Growing on trees.
Growing on trees.
Sweet and crunchy and good for you.
They grow on trees in three colours, it’s true!
Do like you apples? Because I really do!
In red, yellow and green.
Tuesday Craft Time: Red Apple Collages and Painting
The children used glue to stick red tissue paper squares onto apple shapes. Some children chose sparkly foil paper to stick onto their apple shapes. It’s always interesting to watch the children at craft time and observe what materials they select.
Some children preferred to paint with the colour red. I offered to draw an apple on their papers so they could paint the apple red.
This idea delighted some of my toddlers. They had fun applying layers of paint to their masterpieces.
Wednesday: Apple Field Trip
Find a pick-your-own apple orchard in your area. If you can’t find an orchard, see if you can locate a crab apple tree nearby and pick crab apples.
Crab apples make great apples to use in apple print crafts (see Thursday art time).
Consider visiting a local farmer’s market and buying some freshly picked apples. It would be interesting to talk to the farmer who planted the apple tree seedlings.
Once you locate your apple orchard, ask them if they use apple pickers on poles or if they have low growing apple trees for young children.
My older kids liked trying out the apple pickers but they were too heavy for the toddlers to use.
The children preferred the orchard with the low growing branches that they could reach.
Remember to bring a stroller or wagon for your little ones. The orchard is often a walk from the parking lot and on your way back you will be carrying a basket full of apples!
Thursday Morning: Apple Baking
My two favourite apple recipes to make with the children are apple sauce and baked apple rings. These are easy for even the youngest children to make with you and they taste simply delicious.
4 apples – peeled, cored and chopped
3/4 cup water
1/4 cup white sugar (depends on the type of apples you use)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
In a saucepan, combine apples, water, sugar, and cinnamon. Cover, and cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until apples are soft. Allow to cool, then mash with a fork or potato masher.
Baked Apple Rings
2 apples, cored & thinly sliced
Apple Pie Spice, or Cinnamon Sugar (amounts to taste)
Pre-heat oven to 250 degrees.
Arrange apple slices on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.
Sprinkle apples with apple pie spice or cinnamon sugar
Bake apples for one hour; turn (you can add additional spice here, if desired) and bake for an additional thirty minutes. Test an apple for crispness. If crisp, remove from oven. If not, continue checking the apples every ten minutes until crisp.
Thursday Afternoon: Active Learning Ideas
1. Movement Games
You can roll like apples, jump over apples and play Red light, Green light (but play Red Apple-Green Apple instead!)
2. Science Exploration
You could set up a science lesson on floating and sinking in a large Rubbermaid bin or in your sensory table.
Provide apples (and other objects) and let the children experiment with each object to see if it floats or sinks. For those children who aren’t interested in testing out buoyancy I give them tongs and scoops to use instead.
3. Apple Toss
You could have an apple toss by rolling up red, green and yellow socks. Toss the sock apples into a basket and then count the pairs of apples.
4. Matching Game
Cut out several apples from paper and you can use them in letter matching games and/or number recognition games. Use two paper apples and print the letter A on each one.
Repeat this for a few more letters (maybe the first letter in the children’s names in your group). Spread them out around your room.
Have the children move around the room and match up the two paper apples that both have a letter A on them. Repeat for the rest of the letters.
You could play the same type of game but practice matching numbers instead.
You could extend the game by hiding paper apples in different rooms and having the children search for apples in a certain colour or with a certain number on them. For example: Go into the kitchen and bring back an apple with a number 2 on it.
Friday Morning: Apple Imaginative Play
You can create an imaginative play centre around your apple theme. Include some mixing bowls, wooden spoons and pretend apples for some apple baking play.
Wicker baskets and pretend apples will spark their imagination for a pretend apple picking excursion. Small trowels, seeds and brown cloths work to create apple tree planting props.
A shopping cart, apples, money and a cash register are what they need to play store.
Friday Art Time: Goopy Paint and Apple Printing
1. Goopy Paint
We finger painted with red goopy paint as a sensory activity on slippery plastic plates. I mixed red finger paint with watered down white glue.
The plastic plates make clean up very easy and quick. The older children wrote the letter A with their red goop and the younger ones explored the texture.
The older kids love to help wash the plastic plates in soapy water when we are finished.
2. Apple Prints
Apple printing is an exciting craft for the children to try. You can keep it simple with one colour, try a few or even mix colours and create colour patterns.
When you slice the apple in half leave the stem on the top half so that the children have something to hang onto when they stamp their print.
You can cut two small chunks out of the other half to form a little handle. This will make it easier for small hands.
Younger children will be happy experimenting with simply making apple prints but older children might want a challenge. One idea is to divide their paper into four squares.
Draw a bare tree in each square with brown paint or marker. Then let them stamp what an apple tree looks like in each season.
Bare in the winter, pink blossoms in the spring, green apples in the summer and ripe red apples in the fall.
An apple theme unit can be extended for weeks or covered within a few days. Pick and choose the activities that would appeal to the children in your home daycare.
I hope you enjoyed these ideas and find some time to celebrate the autumn season with Apples!
Looking for MORE APPLE activity ideas? I have some for you! Check out this blog post about Apple Activities -Science and Math Fun for 2 year olds-4 year olds.