Pick a juicy red apple
What are your memories of fruit trees from your own childhood?
Do you remember picking fruit as a kid? Did you climb the tree and sample the fruit? Raid the branch full of pears or apricots from the neighbours tree? Did you bag up all the plums and have a roadside stall? Perhaps your parents or grandparents make jam or chutney or marmalade? Did you screw your face up at the sour taste of unripe fruit? Or eat too many plums and work out for yourself just why this is not a good idea?
Kids love picking things from trees and bushes! What a great way to play outside. Very small children can pick low hanging fruit, or gather fruit from the ground. As the kids get older they can climb higher and higher and can become quite useful in reaching fruit from the upper branches.
Even the smallest family members can participate. They can lie under the tree and follow the leaves and apples as they sway in the breeze (being mindful that they're not in the firing line for falling fruit!).
As with most fun activities, the kids are just playing, but they are also developing many important skills.
- Using focus, hand-eye co-ordination and grip-strength to reach and grasp the fruit as it moves in the wind.
- Core and arm muscles are used to pull the fruit from the tree.
- New tastes and textures are discovered as the loot is sampled, concepts such as ripe/unripe can be explored.
- A connection between nature and food is established and enhanced, inspiring families to know food as coming from the garden, not just from the supermarket.
Older kids might choose to climb the tree to reach the higher fruit, thus navigating a giant, 3D puzzle. They have to use all their balance and creative thinking skills to find a path up and down the tree. They'll grow their understanding of how their body works in space (proprioception). They'll learn about appropriate risk...can they stand on the skinny branches? Can you always eat what you pick from a tree? If you pull the branch really hard, will many apples fall on your head??
Once the apples are picked, they stay crunchy and crisp for a week or more, if they can be resisted for that long!
What to do with the fruit that is not OK for eating?
- cut out the bad bits and make some chutney!
- chop it all up and mix it into mud pies
- make some stampers and use it for an art project!
- line them all up from smallest to biggest
- make towers with them!
You can extend the fun by harvesting seeds (a wonderful fine motor skill opportunity for littlies), drying them out, potting them and growing more apple trees!
If you or your child loves apples and has loved the whole process of harvesting, cooking and planting then "One Red Apple" by Harriet Ziefert is a fabulous and simple story you may enjoy together.