Autumn is quickly approaching, so naturally, all the homeschool mamas are browsing Pinterest on the hunt for the cutest apple, acorn, and pumpkin-themed crafts and activities. I used to be that homeschool mom. The one who would print and laminate all the things and stress myself out spending too much money at the craft store for projects that barely held my children’s interests and, in the end, taught my children very little.
As I have studied Charlotte Mason’s philosophies and methods over the last year or so I have begun to take a different approach to studying specific topics, and you know what? It is so much simpler and way more meaningful. Instead of the shallow approach I may have taken in the past, I focused on the staples of a Charlotte Mason education in this study–living books, narration, poetry, hand rhymes, songs, handcrafts, art, picture study, tea time, hands-on nature study, and real-life experiences.
Living Books and Narration
First and foremost, every good study begins with books! I gathered the books from this list and put them in a basket in our living room for the children to read independently throughout the week. We grabbed a few to read together at Morning Time and I would ask the children to orally narrate what I read. We also used these books during our apple tea party and throughout the week as a reference when questions came up about apples and for art inspiration.
Here is my apple picture book list. I’ve compiled this list from a few sources over the years. These are my tried and true favorites from these sources: Read-Aloud Revival, The Peaceful Preschool Letter A Unit and Tree Guide, Stephanie Hathaway’s Apple Unit, and Rooted Childhood September Collection (get 10% off with code: TREEHOUSESCHOOLHOUSE10).
- The Season’s of Arnold’s Apple Tree by Gail Gibbons
- Apples by Gail Gibbons
- The Apple Doll by Elisa Kleven
- How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Princeman
- The Apple Pie that Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson
- Johnny Appleseed by Reeve Lindbergh
- How Do Apples Grow? By Steven Kellogg
- The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall
- The Apple Cake by Nienke Van Hichtum
- How Do Apples Grow? by Betsy Maestro
- Secrets of the Apple Tree by Carron Brown and Alyssa Nassner
Poetry, Hand-Rhymes, and Songs
Each morning we recited poems, hand-rhymes, and sang little songs around the theme of apples. Here are a few that we enjoyed.
We focused on the poem After Apple Picking by Robert Frost. I pulled the poetry printable from Stephanie Hathaways Apple Unit Study and put it in our Morning Time Menu. We read the poem each morning and discussed unfamiliar words, the meaning of the poem, and how different aspects of it made us imagine and feel.
Hand-rhymes and songs
I pulled these two from Rooted Childhood’s September Collection and ended up finding them online to sing along with the music. My two-year-old especially loved these and wanted me to sing them all day and do the motions.
- Way Up High in an Apple Tree – A Fall Fingerplay
- Here is an Apple Tree – Music by Mary Theines-Schunemann
Handcrafts, Art, and Picture Study
Here are a few handcrafts and art projects that I found to add to our apple study. We didn’t fit all of these into our week, but I wanted to share all of the ideas I came across to inspire you.
Apple star printing
After reading The Apple Star Story found in Rooted Collection’s September issue, we cut open an apple, found the star, and made star prints by lightly painting the apple’s star with a paintbrush and pressing it on paper.
Still-life art study
I printed the still-life art pieces from Stephanie Hathaway’s Apple Unit Study and put them in my children’s Morning Menus. Each morning we looked at the art, read about the artists, discussed different elements of the artwork, the colors, the art mediums, and how the art makes us feel. After a few days of learning about still-life paintings, the children set up their own still life using apples and anything else they would like. We lit a candle, put on some classical music, and they attempted to paint their scene. You can find the watercolor paper and paint we use here.
Apple tree embroidery
This handcraft is so adorable and perfect for beginning sewing practice. Using an embroidery hoop and a yarn needle, your child can sew a felt tree trunk and green treetop onto some burlap. To finish it off, they can sew on a few red buttons as the apples. Check out the Art & Handcrafts section in my Amazon shop to see the needles and thread I use. This was a handcraft featured in Rooted Childhood’s September Collection.
Air-dry clay apples
Roll air-dry clay into balls and stick a twig in the top of them as the stem. Once they dry, paint them red, green, and yellow.
One morning I set up an Apple Tea Time with a spread of apple slices, cookies, cheese, crackers, and almonds. We had cinnamon tea, read books from our book basket, and watched a few apple videos that were shared in the Apple Unit.
Here are the videos we watched:
- APPLE | How Does it Grow?
- Apple life cycle
- Little Bear Episode 31 about applesauce
Hands-on Nature Study and Exploration
Using the living books I mentioned, the videos above, and Stephanie Hathaway’s Apple Unit printables, we explored many facets of how apples grow, the life cycle of the apple tree, the anatomy of the apple and the apple blossom, apple varieties, and more.
After a few days of my children soaking in all the information, I asked them to give me a few sentences of what they have learned. I wrote what they said in their nature notebooks and they drew/painted a picture to illustrate it.
Dissecting and tasting apples
We cut open a few varieties of apples and using the Anatomy of an Apple printable from the Apple Unit, we separated the pieces into piles. Then we ate them and talked about how the different varieties tasted.
Real Life Experiences
What would an apple study be without some baking? This week we made apple crisp and apple pie. Children love being in the kitchen. They are gaining so much while peeling, cutting, measuring, following directions, setting the timer, and most of all, being together in a shared experience.
Baking apple crisp
I use and love the apple crisp recipe from The Peaceful Preschool Letter A Unit.
Baking apple pie
If you’re looking for a pie recipe, try this one.
After a full week of exploring apples, we drove over to our favorite mountaintop apple orchard and spent the day picking apples. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the end of a fun study and really round off all the learning that happened.
If you enjoyed this Apple Study, you'll love my full Autumn nature curriculum, Treehouse Nature Study: Autumn. This 13-week seasonal nature study includes all of the essential elements of a Charlotte Mason curriculum. It is a gentle guide meant to invite various ages to connect with each other and the world around them through living books, nature notebooking, hands-on projects, and beauty subjects such as poetry, picture study, and folk songs.
I absolutely love all of your amazing ideas, what an inspiration! Everytime I try a new idea or material from your blog or shop, my 9 yr old tells me my “school” is the best and that he is so happy :) You are the best!!!