This portion of the unit encourages students to conduct simple investigations of apples. Students experiment, observe, and keep records as they become "immersed" in a multi-sensory study of apples. Students will make notes in learning logs as they investigate and discuss the activities. In the learning logs the students simply record what happened during the activities and their reactions to what happened. Students may later use their notes as the basis for language arts activities, such as writing poems. Writing first serves as a tool for learning and later becomes one of the possible end-products of the lessons.
1. Which Apple Is Yours? Describing Apples - Each student needs an apple for this activity. Ask students to take ten to fifteen minutes to examine their apples and write a detailed description in their learning logs. Students should note the distinctive characteristics of their apples, paying close attention to color, texture, shape, and variations from one side to another. After the students have had time to write, collect all the apples and put them in a big pile. Challenge the students to find their own apples, using their notes as proof that they are choosing the correct apple!
2. Listening to Apples - Arrange for students to work in pairs or small groups. Each group needs an apple.
Encourage students to use comparisons such as "It sounds like... a woodpecker tap-tap-tapping... drummers drumming softly ... a noisy squirrel chewing a snack..." (This is a good time to explain what similes and metaphors are, and why poets use them.)
Later, the pairs can take their notes and write a poem using the descriptions of the sounds for a book or bulletin board project.
3. Apple Aroma - Slice different varieties of apples into bite-sized pieces. Have students blindfold a partner, then write down the words their blindfolded partner uses to describe the smell of each apple. Remove the blindfold and see if the student can correctly match the variety with its smell.
4. Other Senses - Describe in writing what an apple looks and feels like. Use similes.
The phrases can be rearranged and revised to make a poem. Students can also use the similes that they wrote for the "Listening to Apples" activity and the descriptions for "Apple Aroma" in their poems.
5. Water Content of Apples - Apples, like many other fruits and vegetables, contain a significant amount of water. This experiment focuses on the apple's water weight.
Each student needs an apple slice. Students tie a piece of string around their slices, weigh them on a small scale, and record the weight in their learning logs. The apple slices should be hung to dry. Students weigh the slices every several days and note the weight in their logs. In their logs, students hypothesize why there are changes in weight. (As apples dry out, the weight decreases.)
6. Using Microscopes - Slice an apple into very thin pieces. Put each under a microscope. Have students work in pairs and discuss the appearance of the apple slice under the microscope. Ask students to draw what they see and write down as many words as they can to describe it.
7. Litmus Tests - Test a sliced apple to find out if it is an acid or a base. Press litmus paper against the slice of apple so the paper can soak up the juice in the apple. Discuss with the class the meanings of the words acid and base. (Background information: acids have a sour taste. They will react with some metals to give off hydrogen gas. Bases taste bitter and feel slippery. They are also called alkalies.) This can be done as a demonstration lesson or as a small group or paired activity.
Adapted from Apples: A Class Act published by the U.S. Apple Association. If you would like additional information, please contact: U.S. Apple Association, P.O. Box 1137, McLean, VA 22101-1137, (703) 442-8850