Now that fall is in the air and your big kids are off at school, you might be getting the urge to have some special mom-and-child fall-themed fun with your littlest one. Toddlers and preschoolers are still learning a lot about the world around them, so even simple, everyday objects are exciting to explore and play with. During the month of September, apples are usually plentiful: Whether you pick them yourself or buy them at the grocery store, they’re a symbol of autumn. Here are some fun activities that you and your young child can enjoy with these fruits of fall:
- Go apple picking! When you go with older kids, bushels get filled up very quickly. Little children take longer to find low-hanging apples, as well as to choose which varieties they’d like to try, so this is a great activity to enjoy with your preschooler (you can always go back on a weekend day when your school-aged children are home). Take a leisurely stroll through the apple orchard, letting him pick out two or this kind and three of that kind. Also, take advantage of any animals, hayrides and other attractions that shouldn’t be too crowded during the week.
- Make applesauce. You’ll probably need to do the peeling, chopping and boiling of the apples (maybe during naptime?), but once they have cooked and cooled, your preschooler will enjoy mashing the apples and stirring in the right amount of brown sugar and cinnamon. This activity makes the house smell great, puts you in the mood for fall, and provides a healthy snack, too!
- Find the star. If you cut an apple horizontally, you’ll see a star in the middle. Cut one in half and show your child the star. Pick out the seeds, and each of you can paint using one half of the cut apple: Place a little bit of washable paint on a palette or a styrofoam plate, then brush the paint on the cut side, making prints on paper. If you use butcher paper, you can put it aside for holiday wrapping to use in a few months!
- Have a taste test. Slice up several apples of different varieties, and let your child taste each of them. Which one is his favorite? See if you can help him find words to describe the taste and texture: explain what the words mealy, tart, sweet and crisp mean, and see if he can pick out these characteristics. Use the rest of the slices to make baked apples: put a little bit of water or apple juice in the bottom of an oven-safe pan, add the sliced apples, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, and toss in a handful of raisins (as well as nuts, if you desire). Bake at 350 degrees until they’re soft. This is another recipe that will make your house smell like autumn!
Enjoying the fresh tastes and smells of each season is something that your children will look back on fondly as they grow up. Since apple-picking season only lasts a couple of months, don’t let the opportunity to explore this favorite fruit with your little ones pass you by until next year!