Learning the alphabet comes in many forms. Our Alphabet For Starters series is all about playing with letters in a creative environment and this letter activity was a huge hit! There are lots of ways of changing it around for different levels too so don’t miss my notes after the tutorial if you want to do this with children who aren’t just starting out with letters. This may seem like a simple letter activity and it is but it’s sneaky too. Little fingers have to peel the apples off giving their fine motor skills some serious work.
- Gather your materials. This picture is incomplete because I shifted my plan part way through and so glad I did, the final result was a blast! You will need some craft paper or paper bag, brown paint, paint brush, marker, scissors, contact paper, and green, yellow and red paper . A basket is not a must but if you have one grab it.
- Start by cutting a truck from craft paper or a paper bag. I taped it down because my daughter is exuberant with paint ( you’ll see) and this helps keep it all in one place.
- Paint with a brush…
- Or your hands. You really don’t need to have your child(ren) help make the tree but when kids help make the activity there is a deeper connection to the learning.
- While that is drying and you are done washing the gallons of paint off your toddler make some apples from red and yellow paper.
- Add letters.
- Once it’s dry tape the trunk to the wall . Add tape to the back of green paper and add it to the tree.
- Cover the top of the tree with contact paper sticky side OUT.
- Add the apples.
- Make sure that you are leaving a corner of the apple off to peel off.
- Basket in hand and ready to pick her apples!
- She really had a great time and got excited to announce which apples she was picking. As always she chose the first letter of her name first followed by the mine, her brother’s and her dad’s. It’s exciting to see that she connects letters to people meanings outside of the immediate activity. As soon as we were done she bolted from the playroom full basket in hand to show her dad all her letter apples. I would have taken a shot of his but he was sorting laundry and well my literal dirty laundry has no place on the internet .
How to take it to the next step :
- Have a chart of lowercase letters and have your child peel off the uppercase apples to match the lowercase letters.
- Use sight words instead of letters. Call out the sight word and have your child find , peel and pop them in the basket.
“A” Was Once An Apple Pie by Edward Lear and Suse MacDonald is an adaptation of the classic Edward Lear poem that had both my children transfixed. The bold bright colors kept my daughter who is 10 months old wide eyed the whole time and the playful way Suse MacDonald adapted the text had my son listening from A-Z as well. It was incredibly fun to read allowed tongue tying me at times which resulted in us all giggling hysterically in a heap. A book that can do that is a must have in my opinion.
When my son read this book we started learning about apple orchards and the idea for this craft was born. My son is much more into digging in our backyard and building with legos than art these days but I knew I could entice him to create if it involved food coloring and medicine droppers… and I was right! He even asked his dad to take it to work and put it up in his office he was so proud of it. There are a lot of steps for little guys in this craft but you can omit some easily and still make a fun apple tree!
- Gather your materials. You will need coffee filters, red and green food coloring, 2 eye or medicine droppers, ice cube tray, construction paper, markers, scissors, glue and popsicle sticks. You may also want to use a cutting board and some paper towels under the coffee filters to protect your work surface.
- Start by handing your child the construction paper and markers – have them draw the orchard , but make sure they know you will be gluing trees on top. We don’t want any meltdowns over covering their picture.
- Next layer the paper towels under the coffee filters.
- Pour the food coloring into your tray – I watered down the green but not the red.
- Start with the green food coloring on the coffee filters.
- Next add red. Let dry.
- While they are drying ( doesn’t take long in the sun!) have your child color the popsicle sticks with the brown marker. This is great fine motor skills practice! My son decided to make a single line on each …one of which continued onto my table. Remember to use washable markers and a wet cloth nearby always keeps blood pressure low !
- Glue the sticks onto the construction paper.
- Cut the filters into tree tops.
- Glue on and let dry.
More Apple Books
Apple Picking Time by Michele Benoit Slawson was not what I was expecting , it was so much more. I was expecting a basic book about picking apples at an orchard. This book is anything but basic, it’s dreamy and while reading it I almost felt as thought I was back in time when a whole community would come to a stand still for something like apple picking. The protagonist is Anna a little girl who works hard in the orchard along side her parents and grandparents . She isn’t as fast as her parents, but with hard work and the support of her family she reaches her goal and fills a bin! I loved this book, I would suggest it for preschoolers and up.
The Apple Pie That Papa Baked by Lauren Thompson had me tricked into thinking that it was a new edition of an old book. The retro look to the illustrations hooked me and I was shocked to see it was only published 2 years ago. The reader is taken through all the elements that go into making a pie, not the recipe though. The story works backwards from pie to the apples, the tree, the roots and more . The message is one of interconnectedness and makes me feel equally important and small all at the same time. I think it’s useful to teach how everything in nature is dependent on other elements and can’t work alone. My son enjoyed the illustrations of the sun with a face and the little girl helping her father at every step.
- Gather your materials. You will need some 2 pieces of construction paper, a brown marker, some green paint,paint brush glue, scissors and some red pom poms.
- Draw a truck and the top of the apple tree on a light piece of construction paper. Cut the paper in two so each piece is separate.
- Have your child paint the top of the tree with the green paint. Let dry.
- Have your child color the trunk of the tree with a brown marker.
- Cut both pieces out.
- Glue the trunk on.
- Glue on the treetop.
- Add large globs of glue for the pom poms, my son was rather angry that I allowed him to do the glue for the paper but not for the pom poms. It’s hard to be 2.
- Add the “apples” and let dry.