Monday, October 11, 2010

Autumn Series #4: Apples

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We began our study of apples a few weeks ago by reading some books that we had on the shelf.  We took a look at our apple tree in the backyard and noted our observations.  The  tree is very old and likely a "cider" apple tree, meaning it was planted for making hard cider.  I am sure it is some heirloom variety.  We had an arborist look at it a few years ago, and he was unable to identify it.  Our house was built in 1782 so the tree is not only a lesson in science, but also history.  We briefly discussed how people use to make hard cider.  

We then took a trip to the oldest "U Pick" farm in New York State.  It is called Hick's Orchard.  Some of my fondest childhood memories were made here, and so we are passing that tradition down to our children.  This year the apple crop is absolutely amazing.   According to the owner of the orchard, the drought that we have had this year produced very sweet apples.  She explained how the sugars get concentrated because the apples are retaining the moisture that they have, because of the lack of rain.  We picked Empires this year.  Empires are an apple that was developed in 1966 in Geneva, New York.  They have a very dark red skin with a super white flesh.  They are a cross between a McIntosh and a Red Delicious.  

We then took a stop in the apple barn to appreciate the role that bees play in an orchard.  

Apple pie was on our mind, so when we got home we began to peel, chop, sift and stir.   We patiently waited and watched the oven until finally it was done.  The eating was much quicker than the baking!  The Empires did a nice job of keeping a good texture.  The next phase of our study led us to a bit of pencil and paper work.  

I made a small journal including the handouts from Barb at OHC and some other resources that I made.  

The aim this fall is to compare and contrast.  We focused on comparing color, taste, shape, and size.  We made a list of words that describe apples...

which led to our next field trip to Saratoga Apple in Schuylerville, NY.   They grow many varieties of apples.  For our experiment we selected one apple of eight different types from the bins in their apple barn.  Each apple was placed in a brown paper bag and labeled with the matching name.  We chose Honey Crisp, Fuji, Crispin, Ginger Gold, Jonagold, Paula Red, and Gala. When we got home we placed all the apples side by side and discussed similarities and differences between each, focusing on the physical characteristics.  Then we tasted each and voted a "thumbs up or down."  We found our favorites to be Honey Crisp and Ginger Gold.  

For math later in the week, we surveyed various people at my husband's office on their preferences.  We again set up the taste test and found that Honey Crisp was the favorite.  

I thought this was going to be the close of our study, but after I looked on our church calendar I realized that Apple Day was coming.  This is a day when all the home schooling families in our church gather to learn about apples.  Activities range from making apple sauce to apple printing.   We contributed a taste test table this year.  We used several other varieties that we did not try on our first survey.  We were surprised to see that Northern Spy came out as the favorite.  It is just coming into season now, and is one of the oldest apple varieties that we tested.  It was developed in 1800.  

The boys really enjoyed taking their turn on the antique cider press.  Here is a quick video of their work.

This was a long study for three year olds, but it really kept their interest.  I am surprised at how well versed they have become in apples.  The other day "T" asked me as I was eating an apple, "Is that a Jonagold Mom?"  


Phyllis said...

This is such a lovely and thorough post. Wonderful! I especially liked your list of descriptive words.

Barb-Harmony Art Mom said...

1782! Wow! I love that you have an heirloom apple in your yard. You did a great job of making this challenge 3 year old friendly. Thanks for sharing your apples and the last video made me sort of teary because I miss those sweet innocent times with my boys when they were young. Sigh.

I will enjoy watching your study times and relish my memories. Thanks for sharing.

Heather said...

Hi Amy! I notice in your journal that you are from NY. We are too!

Found your blog through Barb's Outdoor Hour Challenge Mr. Linky.

Great post!


pebblekeeper said...

Love the story of your home and of the apples on the east coast! We have such a younger history here on Oregon's shores. :) Trips to the harvest sites were a favorite when the boys were younger. Gave them a frame of mind and sweet memories for when they were older. :) Glad you are joining us on the Nature Study!

Paula said...

I wish we could do some apple picking like you have done. What a nice 'hour' out.

Kattie said...

Great pictures! Looks like you had a great time!

Monica said...

Great photos!