Ms. Claire surprised us with an overflowing bag of apples from a tree at her house. We presented the apples to the children in a basket in an inviting display. There was much interest and excitement with many children sharing that they found apples delicious to eat. Rebecca shared that she thought this type of apple was meant for baking because they were sour, but the children had another idea. Lance offered, “I want some bitter. I like it!”
These exchanges became a perfect connection to our Who We Are unit of inquiry as we explore the idea that by sharing experiences within our community we can learn about ourselves and others.
The teachers agreed that the children could taste the apples and decide for themselves. We feel that children should know that an exchange of viewpoints is highly valued in our context. We asked who wanted to be a taste-tester, and proposed that the children calculate how many slices would be needed. MA counted “1-2-3-4-5″ taste-testers volunteered. There was some negotiation while the teacher began to cut an apple, first in half. Jack noticed that, “We need(ed) to make them (the slices) littler,” anticipating that by cutting the apple only in half, we would not have enough slices for one for each of the taste-testers. The group agreed that five slices per apple would be enough and we cut as the children had suggested.
The children shared their different reactions to the tasting.
Jake: “It is yummy!”
Finlay: “Quite sour, but yummy.”
Lance: “Can I have more because I LOVE it!”
We noticed that some of the children’s words of praise for the sour apple taste differed from their facial expressions.
Rebecca proposed that we might use the apples for some cooking and the children enthusiastically agreed. We wondered where we might find a recipe and we organised a trip to the library to find some cookbooks. Andrea, Lance, Finlay, Eleonore and Clara met with Ms. Jayne who gave us a tour of the library and specifically where we could find what we needed. We noticed that there were different types of pies we might bake and took a selection of books with different recipes. The children promised Ms. Jayne that we would return with a slice of pie to share with her.
We shared the recipes during meeting time. Sanela helped us to make a list in German of the needed ingredients, using German for a meaningful purpose.
Apple Pie Ingredients/Apfelkuchen Zutaten
Pastry/Teig, Apples/Äpfel, Marmalade/Konfitüre, Brown Sugar/Rohrzucker, Honey/Honig, Cinnamon/Zimt and Lemon/Zitrone
The children graphically represented the ingredients needed for the recipe.
We also read a book called Apple by Nikki McClure, following the life of an apple and exploring the cyclical patterns in nature. We will explore these ideas further in the context of local harvest in our own community, with a visit to an apple tree in Maxi’s Opa’s garden.
Eleonore, Clara, Lance, Owen, Albert, Smilla and Mathilda met in the kitchen to prepare for baking the pie. First we used the apple peelers to prepare the apples with much discussion about safety. The children were careful to hold the peelers in the correct direction. We washed the apples and measured the ingredients. Some children helped with poking holes in the pie crust. We read to find out how long we had to wait for the pie to cook. Elena helped by setting a timer and joyfully informed us when the bell sounded. The entire EYC enjoyed the smell of the pie baking.
We shared the final product with the children and teachers in the Early Years Centre. Here are some of their reflections:
Lance: “A bit burnt smelt pizza. Tasted good.”
Owen: “It was crunchy, tasty crunchy.”
Jake: “It will taste really yummy. It did yummy.”
Maxi: “I thought it was good.”
Ellen: “It was tasty and yummy.”
Kasper: “It was delicious and smelled really good.”
MA: “I like the crusty thing.”
Elena and Owen: “Apple and crusty and inside.”
A Visit to Opa’s Garden
Maxi’s Opa maintains a beautiful plot in the local community garden. We were fortunate to be invited for a visit. We tasted tomatoes, dug for potatoes and cut lettuce and kale. The children were highly engaged with the environment, each other as well as Maxi’s grandparents.
Lance: “It’s a cool garden. Look at those growing things. Mine (a tomato) is tasty and juicy.”
Elena: “I saw one (a potato)! It’s there. That’s a big one.”
Paolo: “Una potato.”
Zeena: “I got some fresh potato today.”
Izumi: “I found a baby potato. Someone nibbled it! The bees are sucking pollen.”
KA: “I see a green tomato. When its green it’s not ready.”
Aaron: “Those worms are good for the plants.”
These encounters represented the meaningful ways that children can drive their own learning. As we shared experiences around the apples, there were abundant opportunities for rich learning connected to our unit. Children needed to integrate mathematical thinking for a purpose as they predicted, calculated and compared during the tasting and cooking. Literacy was valued in a real life context as the children were motivated to write for a purpose. Communication skills like listening and speaking were required and valued for participation. These experiences were a beautiful platform to develop the children’s sense of themselves in our group, their place and the reasons why particular places are important to people.
Photographs by Rebecca Smith – ICS Early Years Teacher