Sometimes the things you need for some fun, thematic play are right inside your pantry! Evan's been doing a lot of learning and playing at home through thematic sensory bins, and he has loved it. But this week, I wanted to take a different approach to sensory play. And no, not only because I was tired of picking up little beans and corn kernels, lol (okay, maybe that was part of the reason).
As we soak up the last little bit of fall before our family officially begins celebrating Christmas (after Thanksgiving, as it should be 😜), I wanted to set up some play surrounding apples. To me, apples are symbolic of autumn even more so than pumpkins. Apples are also Evan's favorite fruit, and they come in different colors, which allows for fun color play! But the real kicker was that my neighbor - the sweetest snowbird you could ever know - just came back down from North Carolina and gave me SO many apples, more than we could eat before they turned bad. Enter... apple sensory play! I thought of a few fun ideas (and got some "pinspiration" - aka inspiration from Pinterest) that I'm excited to share with you!
Take note that Evan is two years old, so while we did several activities with apples, his sustained attention per activity was pretty short. I'm a big advocate of peacefully-paced child-led learning and play, so we don't normally do a burst of different activities at once like this. In fact, he spent a lot of time beforehand playing with the apples in his tractor truck toys... manipulating them, dumping them, hauling them. It was so cute, and totally led by him! Unsurprising, of course... anyone who knows him knows that tractors will always make an appearance in his playtime.
But it was neat to do a few "structured" activities and expose him to different learning modalities to see what he gravitated towards. Y'all ready?
Apple Color Sort
red, green, and yellow apples
red, green, and yellow construction paper
I figured we'd start with something simple. The first thing I did was model this activity. I picked an apple from the bowl, said its color name, and placed it on the matching color paper. He sorted the yellow apple (as pictured)... and then proceeded to dump the bowl of apples on the floor, lol. I tried again, but he was clearly disinterested. Activity #1... done! This is a great example, though, of not needing him to complete the activity. There's no need to force it! He wasn't into it, so we moved on.
This one was a HIT! (shocker, I know).
paper towel roll tubes
toilet paper roll tubes (or cut the paper towel tubes in half)
The premise of this activity is pretty straight-forward. I simply showed Evan how to stack the apples on top of the tubes, and then of course the following ensued:
This activity is great for exploring with balance. It took him a minute to get the apple balanced on the tubes, but he was hyper-focused on it for a bit! Then the knocking down of the towers was incredibly gratifying for him, lol. 10/10 would recommend!
My child is oddly obssessed with spray bottles. He somehow gets a hold of my leave-in conditioner, and tries to spray down all the things: the dog, the furniture, himself. When I try to take it away, he acts as if I've confiscated his most treasured toy. SO, I decided to channel his fixation into this activity.
Cleaning fruit is a wonderful "practical life skill" that kids can actually do and enjoy, while working on their coordination and feeling of accomplishment.
spray bottle with water
bowl filled with water
This activity really is as simple as it looks. I had him spray the apples, scrub them with the brush inside of the bowl of water, then dry them off! Apple Towers still reigns supreme as far as favorite activities go, but this one came in close second.
I may or may not have been most excited about this activity. I've seen it before, and thought it was such a cute idea! Evan didn't find it as exhilarating, but it entertained him for a bit and made for some cute art!
red, green, and yellow paint
knife (for parent)
foil or paper plate
I started this off by squirting a bit of each color paint on some foil paper. Then, I used a knife to cut a few apples in half. When I did that, Evan noticed some seeds and we stopped to talk about them. I explained that seeds are baby apples, and that they grow into big apples. He was confused, but interested anyways, lol. After our 2.5 second apple reproduction lesson, I then showed him how to dip the apple half in paint and press it onto the paper.
and best of all... Apple Tasting!
My M.O. as a teacher has always been to incorporate food into as many lessons as possible. Fractions? Bringing in some pie. Chemical change? We're making pancakes! Native American History? ALL the native recipes. Essay writing?... hmm, just bringing in snacks to fuel the brain, lol.
So of course, I'm doing the same with my kid. After we did all the activities I just went over, we got to sit back and munch on some very yummy apples.
A big shout-out to neighbor Ed for being my apple supplier, and to Evan for indulging me in this apple play fest.
Are you down to try any of these activities with your kiddo? Which do you think they would enjoy the best? Let me know in the comments below!