The curriculum of a 2nd grade class seems to be perfectly geared towards learning in a garden setting. So far they have studied seasons, consumers and producers, rocks & soil, and are now moving on to natural resources. When learning about seasons the students created posters with cut out photographs and magazine clippings to demonstrate different associations with their chosen time of year. A drawing of an apple tree was the center piece of each poster – In Winter the apple tree was bare of leaves and fruit, in Spring the apple tree was covered in tiny blossoms, in Summer tiny fruits were beginning to be visible, and in Fall a basket full of apples sat beside a tree covered in delicious ripe fruit. What better way to reinforce the idea that certain crops have specific growing seasons, to begin the discussion on consumer choices, and to demonstrate the necessity for soil as a natural resource than to talk about and EAT apples.
Off I went to Whole Foods. Oh Whole Foods! What a variety of apples you have! Braeburn, Honeycrisp, Jonagold, Pink Lady! My second graders couldn’t have imagined the variety of apples sitting before them. We talked about how many varieties of apples exist – “Take a guess”, I asked. “5”… “14”… “100!” There are 2,500 varieties of apples grown in the United States. The kids looked shocked. “How many do you think they usually offer at the grocery store?” Four.
I led the students through the “Apple as the World” lesson. I have to admit this was a little difficult for them to comprehend, fractions and water covering the earth, but once you come down to that tiny sliver of apple representing “tillable earth” it became clear that this soil is something we need to protect. We talked about making educated consumer choices and where they might find a larger variety of apples. And then we began the tasting. I encouraged them to use their senses as they took each bite and think of adjectives to describe what they saw and tasted. “What would you name this apple?” “Yummy in my Tummy Apple” “Crunchy Cookie Apple”. They tasted a few varieties and always asked for more. I had as much fun (if not more) tasting the apples as they did. I gotta admit the lesson was a huge success, but I can’t take all the credit. I mean, what child doesn’t like apples? I haven’t met one yet.