As the weather turns and nights get a little cooler, apples will start to ripen at local orchards. Instead of running to the beach and water parks, families start to look for different activities. Picking apples is a great way to get kids involved in a project that will encourage nutrition, teach them about growing and get them excited about eating some new apple treats.
Look for a Kid-friendly Orchard
Since apple orchards are privately owned, it is best to call and speak to the owners before you plan a trip. Some are very family-friendly and inviting toward children. Others may say they welcome children, but you can hear the strain in their voice as they think about rambunctious children running through their beloved apple trees. It is best to pick an orchard that is more laid-back about the experience. Make sure it has dwarf trees so children can reach the fruit. According to Pillsbury, many offer hayrides, corn mazes and other amenities that make the day even more memorable.
What to Bring
Apple-picking will take several hours, and many people make a day out of it, so come prepared to stay awhile. Dress children in older clothes, so there is no stress over a hole or grass stain. Make sure you pack some drinks for thirsty kids and a picnic lunch if you plan on staying several hours. Some hand sanitizer is a good idea; don't forget the camera to capture the great memories.
Remind Children of Rules
Some orchards have specific rules about behavior while picking, so be sure to review those with children before venturing out. Parents can also remind children that they need to take home any trash they create, so don't drop garbage on the ground. It seems like common sense, but small children can see the round fruit on the ground that resemble a ball and think its a great idea to pick one up and toss it. Even the most patient orchard owners will frown on children throwing the fruit they worked hard to produce.
Give Instructions for Picking
Walking up to a tree and yanking an apple off seems simple enough, but it can actually harm the tree and cause valuable fruit to drop and bruise. According to PickYourOwn.org, the best way to pick an apple is rolling it upward and twisting for a gentle removal. Show children how to check for bruises and blemishes before picking and give them guidelines for size or you may end up with a bushel of tiny inedible fruit.
After the picking is done and you've headed home, get children involved in making some special foods with this delicious and healthy fruit. Children will be happy to help making applesauce, pies and crisps. Simply slice some up and dip in caramel, peanut butter or cream cheese. Virginia Apple Growers suggests kid-friendly recipes including apple milkshakes, roll-ups, cakes and frozen pops. The possibilities are endless.
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