apples,  autumn,  fall,  investigations,  project work

Starting a child-led apple investigation

It’s almost that time of year – time to explore all things apples and pumpkins.  I don’t know what it is about apples, but we can’t seem to make it through a school year without some kind of apple activity or snack.  I’m all for exploring these fall favorites, but lets let the children determine what they want to learn.

The best way to start a child-led investigation is incredibly easy; just put some apples on a table and see what happens.  I do suggest a number of different kinds and colors of apples, because these will lead to a number of different conversations.

Young children are curious about EVERYTHING, if you put something new on the table they will want to touch it, play with it, and talk about it.  Here is a list of questions that you can use to aid your discussion:

  • What are they? How do you know they are apples? 
  • Where did they come from? or Where do you think I got these apples?
  • What do you do with them?
  • What do you notice about them?
  • Why are they different colors?
These questions will give you a good idea what the children already know about apples, and what you may be able to teach them.  When you begin a child-led investigation it is helpful to have a few different ideas about the direction the investigation might take, this way you can be prepared for what comes next.  Here are some possibilities for this particular investigation; 
  • If the children focus most of their conversation on eating the apples then you could do a taste test.  Slice all of the apples and make sure that each child gets one slice of each different apple.  Before tasting them, ask the children if they think they will taste different, or the same, then taste them together.  After tasting them, talk about what they noticed.  After this activity you may talk about why apples taste different, and get into the science behind different varieties. 
  • The children may be most interested in the fact that the apples are round, and that they roll across the table.  You could search your classroom for other round objects and see how far each object rolls. 
  • The children may be most fascinated by all of the different colors of apples.  You may bring out a chart that shows all of the different apple varieties, and how many different color apples are available.  You may cut into the apples to see if they are also different colors on the inside. 
  • The children might focus on the fact that you got the apples from the grocery store, so you may want to show the children photos of an orchard so that they can begin to understand that apples grow on trees, this may lead to a study of how an apple grows. 
These are just four possibilities, but they cover the main directions that your discussion might lead. Exploring any of these topics will give your students a better understanding of a common item.  

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