September in the Midwest often means cool mornings and warm afternoons, clear skies, leaves changing colors, and apples! Choosing the theme of the baby book club this month was easy and was made easier, yet, when I stumbled upon the book, Apples Here! by Will Hubbell. Apples Here! follows the apple growth cycle through the entire year, from bud to post-harvest. The story is told with simple sentences and the repetition of the phrase, “apples here”. The illustrations are beautiful and there is an ode to diversity both in the ethic representation of children in the book and holidays celebrated during the winter season. There is also a nod to local agriculture as the children buy apples from the local farmer. All of these great themes are in one little children’s book. Many of the moms in our group agreed that WE really liked this book, but did the babies also like it? Yes! The book seems to have been a winner with the babies as well. My 17-month old selected this book often and even learned to “read” it with me, by saying, “aaah-pelss” at the appropriate times.
After reading the book as a group to the babies at our book club gathering, we set the babies up for our chosen apple activity: apple printing. We each cut one apple in half-lengthwise and cut a small “handle” in the top so that the babies would have an easy place to grasp the apple. I got the idea for cutting handles into the apples from this link: http://teaching2and3yearolds.blogspot.ca/2011/10/apple-prints.html. Then we poured small amounts of homemade finger paint (equal parts flour and water mixed with food coloring) into shallow containers so the babies could dip the apple into the paint and then press it onto the paper that we taped to their individual trays. The babies were quite enjoyable to watch (and photograph) painting. Some got into the activity more than others, some preferred to use their fingers to smear around the paint, and some chewed on their “stamp”, but overall it was good experience for each of them!
It didn’t take long in their high chairs before the little ones decided that it was time to eat! Luckily, our snack was all ready to go: homemade applesauce in the slow cooker. The recipe (from the October 2012 issue of Parents magazine) was very simple and made the house smell wonderful while cooking. Three lbs. of peeled, cored, and sliced apples went in the slow cooker with a little water (about ¼ cup), 3 tablespoons lemon juice, and ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon for 3 hours on high. After three hours, the apples smashed right into sauce! There was no-sugar added (always my goal for the little ones) and I don’t think it was missed one bit!
Please see the slide show below for photos of this apple adventure!
Our fall fun will continue next month with a Halloween party and the book, Where is Baby’s Pumpkin? by Karen Katz