Secrets of the Apple Tree

Fall is such a beautiful time of year for exploring with little ones. This month, we focused our book club meeting on apple trees, nature, and encouraging the natural sense of curiosity in toddlers.

Our Baby Toddler Book Club met to read Secrets of the Apple Tree: A Shine a Light Book by Carron Brown and Alyssa Nasser. This book is an Usborne publication from the Shine a Light series. The Shine a Light books are all designed so that when a flashlight is held behind each page, a “hidden” illustration appears. These books are an innovative and interactive book that toddlers can enjoy, but the stories are long and I think the book is definitely one that our kiddos will be able to grow into. When we read the book aloud, we only read parts of each page to keep the attention of all the children. We were all in agreement that this book will be one to take home and pour over one (or two) on one.

Secrets of the Apple Tree, in particular, shares non-fiction information about apple trees and potential inhabitants in or around the tree. Playing off of the nature aspect of the book, after reading, we went for a mini-nature walk with the instruction to collect natural items as we walked. We took a bag with us and the kids quickly filled it with leaves, pine needles, pine cones, dandelions, and sticks.

After our walk, we came back inside and explored previously cut slices of an apple and our collected nature items on our light table. Just as we used light to explore aspects of the book about nature, we then used light to explore real collected nature items.

For this meeting, I used our family’s light table. We made it last year as a gift and our kids use it everyday. You can purchase light tables, but they are pricy. Our DIY version wasn’t cheap once we purchased all of the materials, but it was less than many light tables available for purchase. In case anyone wants to make one, I provided the basic directions below. My husband did all of the manual labor, so I asked him for instructions and here’s what he said:


IKEA Lack Table

Square shadow box that is approximately the same size as the table top or slightly smaller

IKEA DIODER multicolor OR white light strip set (2 sets)

Glass frost spray

Adhesive caulk


Electrical tape


Directions: Use spray frost to frost the glass of the shadow box frame and let dry. Once dry,  using the adhesive provided with the strip light kit, adhere the light strips to the shadow box under the glass, but along the edges. Use a dremel tool to knotch out two small holes in the frame to pull the cords through. Glue down the shadow box on the table with clear adhesive caulk. Use electrical tape to secure the excess cords under the table and along the table legs. Use additional electrical tape along the top edges of the frame (on the glass) to cover the lights if they are too bright so that children aren’t looking directly into the light. The light will still disperse throughout the table. Use velcro to attach the light control panels to the side of the table.

That’s all of the detail I got out my husband (!) and we made it over a year ago so our memory of the process isn’t fresh, so I do want to share a better tutorial on THIS blog that that served as our inspiration to use the IKEA DIODER lights (though our design ended up being different in the end and I do recommend our addition of covering the lights on the top of the table with electrical tape to protect those little eyes).

If you are interested in using a light table, but this one looks intimidating, check out the adapted version that I put together for our Book Club Pals donation bag. I was going to make a smaller version of this light table by Imagination Tree, but the Christmas lights got too hot for the small box that I had to work with, so I used push lights instead.

After all of our reading, walking, exploring, and playing, many of the little ones were ready for a snack (and a few were just ready for a nap)! We kept snack simple and healthy, which is always our goal at Baby Toddler Book Club. Each parent simply brought an apple prepared and sliced however was appropriate for their own little eater. A perfect end to a meeting about apple trees!

Join us next month as we read about being thankful for our bodies!

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