October is National Apple Month, and you have ten days to prepare! I know apples are a frequently used theme in the fall, particularly for preschool and early elementary aged kids. I’ve searched for a wide variety of apple-themed books and activities that can be used in home schools, classrooms, libraries, and just for fun!
Ten Red Apples, by Pat Hutchins (preschool/early elementary: counting, rhyme, rhythm): This rhyming countdown book starts with ten apples on a farmer’s tree, and a different farm animal comes and takes one on each page with the farmer crying out, “Save some for me!” to each one. The pacing and rhythm on this one could be a little tricky, so I would recommend practicing reading it aloud before sharing it with children. (I suggest giving each syllable of “yippee” and the animal noises before “fiddle-dee-fee” a full beat to help with the rhythm, but use whatever works for you!) A good book for a preschool or early elementary read-aloud for storytime in a classroom or library setting. (You could even have children get involved with animal masks or flannel board characters and a tree with removable apples to reinforce the “take away one” idea.)
Little Critter: The Fall Festival, by Mercer Mayer (early elementary: easy reader, fall theme): Little Critter and his family go to a fall festival to play the games, ride the hayride, and pick apples and a pumpkin. Simple sentences, basic or repeated vocabulary, and detailed and colorful illustrations make this a perfect book for a very new reader to share with an adult (or possibly try out alone!).
The Apple Pie Tree, by Zoe Hall, illustrated by Shari Halpern (preschool/early elementary: seasons, (partial) plant life cycle, apple pie): A girl describes how her family’s apple tree changes from season to season as it grows and produces the apples they use to make apple pie. Includes a brief explanation of pollination and a recipe for apple pie at the end of the book. This would be a great book to use in science to teach about plant life cycles, seasons, and/or pollination and leads (of course!) to a great end-of-unit activity–making a pie! Perfect for small groups or homeschooling families (or full classrooms with a lot of helpers!). (UPDATE: I happened upon the 3 Dinosaurs blog that has a Free Fall Pack featuring printable activities made to go with this book and There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves. Check it out!)
Applesauce Season, written by Eden Ross Lipson, illustrated by Mordecai Gerstein (elementary: apple varieties, making applesauce, traditions): A city boy’s family has a tradition every fall of visiting the farmer’s market each week and making applesauce with whatever apple varieties are in season. They make applesauce and apple pie and eat raw apples and celebrate with family and friends. In the end, we see the boy imagining himself passing on the tradition to his own daughter when he grows up. The book is beautifully illustrated by the Caldecott Award winning illustrator of The Man Who Walked Between the Towers and shows step-by-step the process of making applesauce. There is a recipe for applesauce at the end of the book. This book is a perfect book for families to share with their children, but it would also work well as a classroom or library read-aloud or even for independent reading through elementary school.
Eating Apples, by Gail Saunders-Smith (toddler/preschool: nonfiction): This most basic of nonfiction books simply has a photograph on the left page and the one or two word apple description on the right page. The table of contents lists raw, cooked, liquid, and fun apples as section titles, but these are not separated by headings within the text. Perfect for a visual dictionary of apple-related terms for a preschool apple unit.
Apples to Applesauce, by Inez Snyder (preschool/early elementary): This very simple description (one or two sentences per page with photograph) of the step-by-step process of making applesauce would make a good read-aloud to preschoolers or independent reading for an early reader. Includes all the major parts of a nonfiction book. Part of the Welcome Books: How Things Are Made series.
Fall Apples: Crisp and Juicy, by Martha E. H. Rustad, illustrated by Amanda Enright (early elementary: nonfiction): This easy reader book has a table of contents, recipe, glossary, index, and a bibliography of books and online resources for further learning. Unlike many nonfiction books, this one has cute illustrations instead of photographs, but the diagrams and sidebars (on red leaf shapes) help transition new readers from stories to information without losing the fun of a picture book. An excellent resource book for young readers, this book is part of the Cloverleaf Books Fall’s Here! series.
From Seed to Apple Tree: Following the Life Cycle, by Suzanne Shade, illustrated by Jeff Yesh (elementary: nonfiction, life cycle of a plant): This book follows the life cycle of a golden delicious apple to explain how an apple tree grows from a seed to a fruit-bearing adult tree. The illustrations are semi-realistic and geared toward middle elementary age readers, and the text is simple but informative. This would be a good book for basic plant life cycle information, especially as a high interest, low reading-level text for struggling upper elementary readers because it doesn’t appear babyish. Includes all the basic parts of a nonfiction book and an especially interesting circle graph comparing the length of each stage in the life cycle. Part of the Amazing Science series.
Apples, text and pictures by Ken Robbins (elementary: nonfiction, cultivation, uses): The simple descriptions of the cultivation and uses of apples are complemented by photographic illustrations and a “More About Apples” section that provides a comparatively text-heavy appendix of apple facts and stories. The smaller font and photographs make this another good choice for older children who are reading below their grade level but don’t want to be seen reading “baby” books.
Apples (A True Book), by Elaine Landau (elementary: nonfiction): The large print and slim volume misrepresent the information-heavy content of this installment in the True Books series. It includes sections on history, varieties, cultivation, and harvesting in addition to all the usual parts of a nonfiction book. This book would be good for young researchers or teachers looking for good elementary-level information to use with students.
Peeled, by Joan Bauer (middle to high school): I love Joan Bauer because her books are good, clean fun in the often murky, troubled waters of young adult literature. From this book I learned the best way to store apples to extend their freshness, but the actual story is about a school newspaper reporter trying to get to the truth about creepy stories going on around town, and nobody–especially the local newspaper man–is making it easy. Its setting in Happy Apple Valley and an orchard-growing community provides opportunities for the author to slip in apple-related facts and word play.
Apple Crafts, Poems, Songs, and Activities:
An Apple a Day!: Over Twenty Apple Projects for Kids, by Jennifer Storey Gillis: This book has the unfortunate distinction of being printed entirely in green and red (except for the cover), but it includes a nice variety of kid-friendly projects with apples ranging from cooking projects to a crossword, instructions for an apple wreath, and games with apples. (GirlChild is most excited about trying the Apple Pizza.) As it also includes facts about apples, this book would be a good resource for a teacher with an apple unit to plan.
Easy Apple Crafts for Kids at No Time for Flash Cards: A selection of apple crafts for young children, including painting, cutting, stamping, and lacing crafts.
Apples, Apples, Apples! at Happy Home Fairy: This blogger includes links to everything from apple pie scented homemade play dough to an apple tasting party to indoor “apple” picking!
The Little Red House with No Doors and No Windows and a Star Inside retelling at North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services: I remember hearing this story as a child, and now, several decades later, I still remember how fascinated I was!
Apple Songs, Poems and Fingerplays and Apple Games and Activities at Alphabet Soup: Great collection of apple-themed songs, poems, and fingerplays to use in storytime with preschoolers and early elementary groups as well as complete directions for apple games and activities! (This site includes other searchable thematic units as well!)