Apple Picking with Kids

Parents and teachers go apple picking with kids for lots of good reasons. Sometimes apple picking with kids is pursued for purely practical reasons – obtaining fresh off the tree fruit at reasonable prices. Sometimes parents go apple picking with kids because it brings everybody out into the fresh air and sunshine . There are some families in which parents have turned apple picking with kids into a traditional fall activity, like touch football or raking leaves. No matter why you set out to go apple picking with kids you can simultaneously make use of the orchard and its apples as setting and props to present some memorable life lessons.

Many Hands Make Light the Work You can demonstrate the value of working together by taking several different sized picking baskets with you into the orchard. For five minutes have your kids pick together ( with adult supervision as needed) and ask that they put all of their apples in one basket. While the children are picking have an adult or an older child pick quietly all alone. Do not call attention to this activity and do not suggest in any way that there is a race going on. Just allow the picking to take place and the time to go by.

When five minutes have passed ask everyone to stop picking for a minute and compare what has been accomplished. This is a great time to discuss with your children why their basket has so much more fruit even though no one of them picked longer than the solo picker. Share the expression “many hands make light the work” and ask the children if they can explain the meaning of that saying using the apples as an example. Ask them to think about how much longer the person working alone would have to work to pick as much fruit as the group did.

With younger children you can ask them to hold their hands up and compare how many hands were involved in adding apples to one basket as compared to just the two hands that were involved in filling the other basket. The lesson in part is that when many hands learn to cooperate and work together no one has to work as hard as he or she would if they were working all alone.

It’s also a good time to talk about how the children felt when they were picking together, perhaps they had a chance to chat, or help each other or even sing. while they picked. Certainly the person picking alone might enjoy the solitude for awhile but most children will agree they would work more happily in a group then alone . To demonstrate how working in a group can be more fun you can give each of the children a chance to pick alone and with the group . This may lead them to see that working together can be fun and when work is fun then it doesn’t seem like work at all, the chore becomes “light”. When picking time is over you can share the kids reaction to their experience and perhaps ask for other examples of situations that they know of at home or at school when many hands can make light the work.

Beauty is Only Skin Deep You can demonstrate this well know adage when you first reach your picking spot in the orchard. Have each of the kids take the first five apples they pick and line them up on the grass. Now ask the kids to begin examining the apples. Ask them if after looking at the apples that they chose, more carefully, whether they have changed their mind about the eating value of any of the apples. Help the children examine the apple surface for small holes that may indicate insects or worms that may have damaged the interior of the fruit.

By gently touching the apple skin the children can also discover indentations or soft spots that mean the apple has been bruised and that under what still may be red skin is brown apple. Children are quick to understand that fruit with small holes and nearly invisible bruising may look good at first glance but when you bite into it the apple may not be as good as it looks. They will get the point that the beauty, as in the beauty of an apple picked quickly and dropped into the basket, might only be skin deep.

As you pick your apples you can easily expand on the children’s understanding of “beauty is only skin deep”. Considering th age of the children with you, generate discussion about other things in their experience that have looked beautiful initially but turned out to be not quite so beautiful or as impressive as their surface had led them to believe. Children will enjoy hearing and telling about times went they were fooled by the appearance of something especially if when you go apple picking with kids you are willing to share your own misconceptions and enjoy a laugh on yourself.

Quality Is More Important than Quantity In our consumer society children may begin to accept the idea that one’s success is measured by getting the most of whatever is being offered. If you want the kids you take picking apples to recognize the importance of quantity vis a vis quality you can give them a helpful model right in the orchard. To teach this lesson, take three picking baskets with you into the orchard, one slightly larger than the other two. With the children, pick and fill the largest of the three baskets. When the picking has been completed and the large basket is full sit with the children and sort through the apples you have just picked placing the better quality apples in one of the smaller basket and the lesser quality apples in the other.

The sorting process itself is a good exercise for children as it teaches them to differentiate and evaluate. The rest of the lesson comes when the children see that by choosing to take home fewer apples they will also be paying for and carrying home only apples that are of the highest quality and are truly the best to eat. You can continue to develop this lesson by asking the children for other examples of situations in which the quality of something is more important than the quantity.

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder One of the easiest lessons that can be shared when picking apples with kids is the very subjective nature of beauty or more poetically said, that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. This value lesson can be shared with children of almost any age. When you have finished your picking for the day have the children gather around the apple picking basket. Ask the children to take a long look at the apples on the top of the pile in the basket ( As long as you are using a good sized basket there will be enough apples to choose from without having to dump the apples out ).

Ask each of the children to pick out the one apple that they would choose if they wanted to give the very best apple to their best friend. After each child is holding their own personal best apple ( and you are too) ask each child in turn why they chose the apple they did you may get them started by sharing the reasons for choosing the apple you picked.

This chat can lead into a more expanded discussion of what is meant by the saying ” beauty is in the eye of the beholder”
Each child probably chose a different apple which means each child’s own vision of the “best” apple is a bit different. Something that is the “most beautiful” to one person may be just okay to someone else. We all can respect the vision of others just as we hope they will respect and try to understand ours.

You’ll be amazed at how many valuable life lessons can be demonstrated vividly when you go apple picking with kids . You may be more amazed if you ask the kids what lessons they have learned about life from their apple picking adventure. ?To start them thinking you might share: “It’s a long trip from the orchard to the pie”. It ‘s a great phrase to discuss especially as you drive home after a day of apple picking with kids.

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