We kicked off the official 20/21 back to school season with a theme all about apples, and with a new homeschool space as well!
We spent two weeks learning about apples. For this particular theme we focused on the letter A, the number 8, a triangle shape, and the colors red, yellow, and green. The books we enjoyed throughout were How Do Apples Grow by Jill McDonald part of the Hello, World! Series, and Secrets of the Apple Tree by Carron Brown. If you’ve followed us for a while you will know how much we love the Hello, World! Series and we have several titles by this author. And just like other books in this series we loved How Do Apples Grow! Secrets of the Apple Tree is a Shine-A-Light-Book offered by Usborne, and these books are so much fun for little ones! in addition to the amazing facts they contain and beautiful illustrations, what makes them so much fun and their content come alive is how you use them. Each page has hidden images that are only revealed once light is shined behind the page. If your little one is anything like mine, they will love using a flashlight or lantern to reveal all the things hiding on the pages!
In addition to our books we used for our apple theme, we did utilize some screen time for Grace to enjoy that was centered around our current them. We mostly use YouTube for screen time since it’s free, and I can make playlists so random videos don’t get mixed in, other than the occasional ad of course. I love being able to not only use a YouTube playlist at home for Grace to watch the videos, but we also listen to those videos in the car via Bluetooth. In addition to our YouTube Apples Playlist (you can find our playlist by clicking on the photo above) we also enjoyed watching Disney’s The Legend of Johnny Appleseed via Disney+ (it’s one of the shorts included in Melody Time).
We started off our Apple tot school unit with a super fun Apple picking activity! I grabbed our paper towel roll and foam trees I had made from a previous tot school unit (you can find how I made those here) and a small plastic bin filled with black beans (to weigh the trees down) and added some fake grass on top. I placed 8 (our focus number) Velcro dots on each tree, and attached pom poms to each Velcro dot. One tree had red pom poms, one yellow pom poms, and the other had green pom poms for our focus colors. I sat out a mason jar and tongs, and Grace was able to pick the apples from each tree using the tongs.
Grace LOVED this activity and picked apples over and over again. She also sorted her picked apples by color, and counted each color of apples too! Grace enjoyed this activity so much I actually kept it out for easy access because she asked almost daily to pick apples again throughout both weeks we spent on this theme. Using tongs to pick the apples was also a great way to work on those fine motor skills!
Our next Apple themed activity was as cute little apple craft to go along with our books and discussion of the different parts of an apple. We used a paper plate, red tissue paper squares, 8 seeds cut from black card stock, a stem cut from brown card stock, a leaf cut from green card stock, and a glue stick for this activity. I organized all the parts in a party tray for easy access, and showed Grace how to use the glue stick on a tissue paper square and stick it to the outer edge of the paper plate. This was Grace’s first time using a glue stick and she did not quite enjoy the glue on her fingers. 🤣 So I had to put glue on the edge a little at a time for her to place the tissue paper along the edge.
After the edge was covered in red tissue paper squares, Grace counted the seeds…8 for our focus number, and I asked Grace where she thought the seeds should go. I put little dabs of glue where she pointed and she placed the seeds on the plate. Next we put the stem and leaf on the back side of the plate, and her sweet little apple was finished!
We talked for a bit about the parts of the apple and Grace pointed out the different parts on her paper plate apple. Super fun learning activity and we displayed it with our books for the rest of our apple themed weeks!
We worked on those early handwriting skills for our next apple themed activity. Using a red paper plate I had attached a stem and leaf to as well, I dumped some applesauce in the center for Grace to use her finger to practice tracing our letter, number, and shape we were focusing on these two weeks. Not pictured are the Flashcards with those items for her to look for reference. As much as this girl doesn’t mind to get her hands wet or play in the sand…she still has issues getting her hands dirty. So after washing her hands off multiple times, I lamented and gave Grace a spoon to trace with instead. This activity turned quickly into a scoop and drop activity but she did enjoy pushing the apple sauce around on the plate. She even taste tested some…applesauce is not her cup of tea, but what a great sensory activity to occupy her time for a bit.
We ended our first week on our apple theme by baking apple spice muffins, and boy were they delicious! Spice Cake Mix, applesauce, and an apple were the only ingredients needed for this fun kitchen activity. I’ve pinned the recipe to our Tot School Pinterest board for easy reference. I was brave enough to let Grace chop some of the apple up herself (with helicopter supervision of course) with a table knife, and Grace was also able to help mix all the ingredients together. “Bixey Bixey” as she likes to call it! I then scooped the batter into paper muffin cups and put them in the oven to bake. Grace not so patiently waited at the oven door to keep a close watch on her muffins.
Once they were done, I set the muffins on a rack to cool. Our whole house smelled delicious! And I have to admit my patience was tested a little too waiting for these babies to cool down!
Once cooled, Grace and I both enjoyed a muffin and they were just as yummy as they smelled! Grace was so proud of her muffins and I enjoyed mine with a second cup of coffee. These were so easy to make and so much fun for Grace and I to do together!
We started our second week of our apple theme with fun FREE printable from Fantastic Fun and Learning. Since we are focusing on the letter A, I only printed that letter from this amazing set, and laminated it for durability and use with PlayDoh. In addition to a tub of PlayDoh, I also set out a jar of black beans (apple seeds for this activity’s purposes) and a dry erase marker. Grace was able to use the “seeds” to make the letter A. I also let her color the A with a dry erase marker, and then I let her use PlayDoh to make an A shape as well. Not only was this activity great for letter recognition but also worked on those early handwriting skills as well! This was an easy fine motor activity and Grace learned how to roll out PlayDoh between the palms of her hands as well.
We hit the road for our next mid week activity and enjoyed a little field trip to a local apple orchard. We took a hay ride to the field we were picking from and Grace was able to pick apples from the trees in the orchard.
Grace was able to use an apple picking pole for those apples out of reach, and also utilized her daddy’s shoulders to pick the very best ones from the tree. After another hayride back to the main store, we also enjoyed fresh apple cider slushees for a hard day’s work of picking apples. Anytime we can go on an adventure related to our current theme we take advantage. I love connecting our themes to real world experiences.
Our next activity was a little art project using apples to paint! I took 3 different apples: red, green, and yellow for our focus colors and cut them in half and stabbed a fork (to be used as a handle) in a half from each. I placed red, green, and yellow paint in small paper plates, then placed the corresponding color of apple halves in each plate of paint. I put a piece of cardboard down to protect our surface, and then a plain piece of white card stock on top and let Grace stamp away with the apples. Grace really enjoyed painting with the apple halves, and I was able to call out the colors for her to stamp next.
After she was done stamping, and her artwork had dried, I hung her painting up for us to enjoy in our homeschool space for the rest of our apple theme! In addition to how much Grace loves to paint, this was an awesome color recognition activity as well.
Our last apple themed activity was a STEAM concentrated one, found via Preschool STEAM. Using a paper towel roll I had cut in half, green popsicle sticks, and red pom poms, Grace was able to build an apple tree. Of course she had to count the sticks and apples (8 of each for our focus number) first, and then with a little help from Mommy, Grace built her very own apple tree, knocked it all down, and built it again. Bonus: after Grace was done building her apple tree, she took the popsicle sticks and made triangle shapes as well!
I think our official start to the 20/21 school year was a success! Grace and I really enjoyed this particular theme, and I can’t wait to see how much fun we continue to have in the future! Any activities we found for our apple theme via other awesome blogs have also been pinned to our Pinterest Tot School Board for easy reference as well! And if you haven’t already followed us on Instagram (@everydayalittlegrace), please do, so you can keep up with what we are currently working on before it makes it to the blog! We have a little more structure, a new homeschool space we are both excited about, and so far we are off to a great start to the 20/21 school year. Grace is so excited to go to the “classroom” every day and while we do somewhat have a schedule, we are still free to take a day off if we need to, add a day in on the weekends, and really go with the flow of how Grace wants/needs to experience and learn new things. It’s going to be a great school year ahead! 🍎
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If you’d like to see a sample of how I currently plan out themes for a week check out the Tot School Schedule 🍒 v2.0 page!
You can see a list of our 2020 Tot School Themes 🐝 here.
Interested in purchasing plans or printables for your at home Tot School / Preschool ? Visit our Etsy Shop 🛍 today!
You can still see our original Tot School Schedule by visiting the Tot School Schedule 🍍 v1.0 page.
You can also see a list of last year’s themes on the 2019 Tot School Themes ☂️ page.
You can find all our daily songs, their tunes and lyrics by visiting our Tot School Songs 🎵 page.
Want even more resources for Tot School? Check out our Tot School Resources Page 📚 for some of our favorites!
EVERYDAY a little Grace 🌷