Studying the life cycle of an apple is a great way to engage students in learning about life cycles and living things! Students can hold and observe apples clearly, plus it is a fun fall theme! There’s plenty of science learning that can happen too!
Start with what they can see: Observing Apples
Anytime I start a new science unit, I always try to start with hands on observations. Children benefit from starting with open ended observations before they can start to learn about the concept. Starting with observations sparks curiosity and questions in the students and helps motivate them to learn. I have different observation pages that I use. Some are more open ended and some encourage students to use their four senses (I don’t do taste, as we cannot give students food in my school).
After students observe the outside of the apple, then we cut the apples open and observe the inside. This is also when we start to learn the names of the parts of the apple and begin learning the life cycle of an apple.
Measuring and Comparing Apples
After more open-ended observations, I ask my students for more targeted observations with measuring and comparing apples. Students can measure the circumference of the apple with links and measure the height of the apple with cubes. I stick with non-standard measurement units because that is the kindergarten standard for measurement.
Students also cut open the apples and count the number of seeds inside. They can compare different apples and discuss whether all apples have the same number of seeds! If I could use food with my students, I would love to do a taste testing activity comparing the different types of apples!
Life Cycle of an Apple Starts with the Parts of the Apple
I love to teach the parts of the apple with the physical apple right in front of them. I cut open the apple and have them take it apart with their hands. They find the core, the flesh, the skin, the stem, the seeds, and if possible, the leaf. Once they find these parts of the apple in a real apple, we move on to paper copies with labeling the parts of the apple.
Life Cycle of an Apple
Once students understand the parts of the apple, they are ready to start learning about the life cycle. They see how the apples have seeds inside them, and then using pictures, or, if time allows, actually planting the seeds, students see how the seeds grow into a sprout. After the sprout, the apple plant becomes a tree. The tree then flowers before the apples grow on the tree. The apples then fall to the ground and the seeds are inside the apples, and the cycle all starts all over again! It’s fun to ask students how they think the seeds get from the apple into the soil… they are very surprised to hear you talking about animal poop as one of the ways!
Students can learn a lot about the life cycle of an apple by observing the apples inside and out, learning the parts of the apple, and understanding how the apple grows from a tiny seed. Apples are a great way to start learning about life cycles because students know apples well as a food, but they probably have yet to observe them closely and wonder how they come to be! Plus, they are a fun fall seasonal activity. Many students, at least in New England, go on an apple picking trip at one point in the season!