September is nearly here and that means many preschool teachers are getting ready for their apple preschool unit! Fall is prime apple picking time and we have plans to join the fun by picking apples at a local orchard. What we won’t be able to do, though, is visit a apple packing facility. Let me explain. I recently came across this Apple theme unit from from The Educator’s Spin on it where they share You Tube videos that take students on a virtual tour of what happens to apples from the orchard to the table (with a factory tour shown in the middle), and let me tell you my boys LOVED the video! They have watched it every day, multiple times a day. When my boys are that interested in a topic I see it as an opportunity to build on their interest and take their learning a step further. That would normally mean taking a facility tour in person, but we don’t have any nearby 🙁 So we did the next best thing and re-created an apple packing facility in our home! This dramatic play area has been a hit with my boys!
Let’s take a tour of our “facility”!
On the far left of the table there is a pail (filled with these apples props) and a simple sign welcoming new factory workers 🙂 (Be sure to visit my post giving 5 more ways to use that Ikea Tolsby frame in preschool setting!)
The apples from the pail first need to get weighed. Unfortunately, our scale doesn’t actually work, but this would be a great math opportunity if you did have a working food scale! Even with a non-working scale, the boys had great fun pretending here!
Apples at the factory get washed and waxed via a conveyer system. We simplified that a bit by using a simple tray and blue pom-poms to represent water. I also added in the fun tongs to pick up and transfer the clean apples to the next station!
At one point in the facility tour, the apples get labeled with stickers signifying where they are from. I cut simple labels stamped with the letter “H” for our facility 🙂 It is little things like adding a letters to the stickers and putting up signs in the dramatic play center that create a print rich environment that early educators aim for. Peeling and placing the stickers on the apples is also great fine motor practice!
I knew I wouldn’t be able to recreate a conveyer system, but I wanted some element of a conveyer represented in our play area. That lead me to make this simple apple chute to convey the apples to the next station (the packing station). I made it using a few blocks and a paper towel tube. Tape held it all together quite well!
The last stop on our tour is the packing station. I used a small shoe box lid and taped down milk bottle caps to hold the apples in place. Adding numbers on the lids encouraged counting and one-to-one correspondence as they packed the apples up to send to market…of course these apples never really made it to market because they went through that facility more than one time! 😉
Well, that ends our tour but I hope our simple Apple Packing Dramatic Play Area has inspired you to create a similar opportunity for your preschoolers (and toddlers!). We believe in the value and necessity of dramatic play like this to encourage early math skills, provide real life literacy opportunities, and promote cooperative learning and role playing. What will your next dramatic play area look like? Share with us in the comments below!
Are you looking fore more apple themed resources? Check out this fantastic Apples Mega Pack!