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Core knowledge, with apples

Sensory lesson takes a delicious turn

Caledonia — Tammy Geene turned recent applesauce snack time into a sensory lesson.

Before smashing them into sauce, Geene’s students used their sense of sight to observe the different colors.

“What are the colors we see?” the Duncan Lake Early Childhood Center young fives teacher asked regarding three apples in front of her. 

Sitting in a circle on the floor, several students volunteered answers and concluded their teacher had red, green and yellow apples.

“While exploring our apples, first we used our sight to see,” Geene said. “Now we’re going to use our hands to feel and touch.” 

Her students passed the apples around the circle and talked about how smooth the skin felt, or how the smaller ones fit in their hands.

Then came the taste test: an important step in deciding which apples to use to make their applesauce. 

Some liked the sweeter, red apple. Others twisted up their faces when tasting the tart Granny Smith. 

After a classroom vote, Geene’s students chose the sour but flavorful Grannies and became her applesauce-making assistants, taking turns using a spiral peeler suctioned to the countertop before their teacher cut up the apples and added them to a slow cooker with sugar and cinnamon. 

Sensory Snacks 

In addition to allowing the young fives to try new foods with different tastes and textures, teaching the five senses was a hands-on lesson about food.

“Through our Core Knowledge Language Arts curriculum, we are learning about the needs of humans like food, water and shelter,” she said. “Making applesauce fits into the food part, and we incorporated sensory learning.”

The comprehensive program for students in preschool through sixth grade builds their knowledge and vocabulary in literature, history, geography and science. 

Also math. Geene laid out the peels to dry and said they would be used in a math lesson the following day.

Throughout the snack-making process, students were guided in making a word chart to describe what they experienced using each of the five senses.  

Dylan said when he helped peel the apples, they smelled sweet and the peels felt smooth. 

Mason said his favorite part of the lesson was eating the applesauce, which he said smelled of cinnamon.

“I didn’t like the applesauce,” Alex said to his teacher.

Replied Geene, quizzically: “But I saw you eat the whole cup.” 

Read more from Caledonia: 
• Kiddos watch chicks and ducklings hatch and grow
• Spreading joy for Alice

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Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark
Alexis Stark is a reporter covering Byron Center, Caledonia, Godfrey-Lee, Kenowa Hills and Thornapple Kellogg. She grew up in metro Detroit and her journalism journey brought her west to Grand Rapids via Michigan State University where she covered features and campus news for The State News. She also co-authored three 100-question guides to increase understanding and awareness of various human identities, through the MSU School of Journalism. Following graduation, she worked as a beat reporter for The Ann Arbor News, covering stories on education, community, prison arts and poetry, before finding her calling in education reporting and landing at SNN. Alexis is also the author of a poetry chapbook, “Learning to Sleep in the Middle of the Bed.”


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