Apple Nachos – Delicious Fall Treat!

This fall I have seen so many people post these delicious looking fall snacks, I wish I had time to make them all!  We didn’t have time to make it apple picking this year, but I snagged some at the grocery store and decided to give Apple Nachos a whirl.  Essentially they are disassembled caramel apples, you can’t go wrong!
I started by slicing up 6 apples, and then I soaked them in ice cold water with a splash of lemon juice.  This will prevent the apples from browning once they are sliced, it’s a great trick if you are planning ahead want to pre-slice them for a snack later.  If you don’t have lemon juice you can even soak them in a lemon lime soda for the same effect, small splash of sprite will do the trick!

Sliced apples soaking in iced Lemon Water
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While these soaked I melted about 20 marshmallows with 4 tbsps of butter…

Marshmallows and butter melting

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Unwrapped and microwaved 20 caramel’s with a teaspoon of water…

Caramels waiting to be unwrapped

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Melted caramels and a smidge of water, just pop in the microwave!

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While I waited for these to melt I arranged the sliced apples on a plate

Arranged apple slices

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And then drizzled them with marshmallow and caramel.  We decided to add mini-M&M’s, but really you could use any topping you like.  Think of all the delicious caramel apple toppings out there!

Drizzle, add toppings, and enjoy!

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The end result was really tasty.  Still kind of messy since the marshmallow and caramel dripped off, but not as messy as trying to bite into a loaded apple.  They were a hit at the party, and I would highly recommend them!

What fall treats do you like to make?

Art Eploration – Pinecone Round Up

Last week I completed a Science Exploration – Pinecone Round Up post.  Since fall is finally here, it was a great round up of simple activities to do with young children when you find pinecones out in the natural environment.  But there are so many more ways that we can bring nature inside of the classroom!  This week I decided to stick with the pinecone theme and do a roundup of Art Activities for you.  I hope you give some of them a try!
The first stop I made was over to Freebie Finding Mom where they made Homemade Pinecone Bird Feeders.  What a fantastic idea!  We would have to tweak their recipe a little bit, because we do not use nut products in our school due to allergies.  But I know that we can find an alternative.  Not only will children enjoy participating in this project, but by placing the bird feeders out side of a classroom window, we can incorporate a whole new set of learning opportunities, spark curiosity and observation.  This is a fabulous way to bring nature into the classroom and create something new.

Homemade Pinecone Bird Feeders from  Freebie Finding Mom

My next stop was over at Craftionary where they had their own collection of 30 Kids Fall Crafts.  There were a lot of good ones, but my favorite was this little pinecone guy.  Can’t you just imagine the amount of fun young students would have creating these?  I can see them enjoying the process, but then expanding their learning to imaginary play afterwards.  You can provide any number of materials and see how they choose to create their own characters.  Each child would have something unique and different.  So much fun!

Pinecone Monsters over at Craftionary

Over at Kiboomu they shared a great Pinecone painting activity as well as an Autumn Song.  I definitely see us incorporating both into our classrooms.  Songs are a really great addition to any lesson at the Early Education level.  I love how they used the pinecones as paintbrushes.  This adds a whole new texture for young artists.  Depending on what pinecones we have collected they can inquire and investigate about whether they will all make the same strokes, will different sizes matter, if you roll them on the paper will it look different than if you brush them?  I can think of so many ways to expand on this learning experience!

Pinecone painting and Autumn song over at Kiboomu Kids Songs

Teach Preschool took another spin on Pinecone Painting, where the children got to actually paint their own pinecones.  This was a great use of fine motor control.  I like how she also incorporated different materials for them to use.  By adding mod podge to the paint it dries with a shine, and allowing the children the independence to use glitter (very brave!) is great.  It sounds like the children kept coming back to complete more pinecones, so I’m sure the activity was a hit!  What a great way to make painting new and exciting!

Pinecone Painting over at Teach Preschool

Finally, I stopped over at How to Build It, because let’s be honest, art projects aren’t just for children! I can’t believe how a little bit of spray paint dress these pinecones up!  This would be an awesome pop of color for a center piece!  I would love to try this for my house!!

Spray Painted Pinecones at How to Build It

Also, if you are planning on doing any of these, or other, pinecone crafts you should properly clean them first.  This helps to get rid of bugs, sap, and other grit.  I found a great article over at Tip Nut on how to prepare and preserve pinecones.  Have fun!!

Science Exploration – Pinecone Round Up

Fall is definitely upon us, whether we are ready or not.  As we were out walking the dog today I came across the biggest perfect pinecone.  Immediately I knew I had to save it and bring it to school for the Preschool classroom’s science area.  I can already see the kids with magnifying glasses in hand ready to explore.  But first, I need to find out how to remove the sap, my hands were covered!
This prompted me to search around a little for some activities we would be able to do with the preschoolers surrounding pinecones.  I know that as we delve farther into fall they will be all over the place, we can take them for walks and gather pinecones galore.  But what will we do with them?  Here is a round up of some of the activities I found that I know we will be trying.
First I hopped over to Preschool Powol Packets and checked out their article on Pinecone Experiments and Exploration.  They gathered pinecones, and other materials on a walk, and then thought of questions such as:  Will they float?  Can you close a pinecone that is open?  Will the size change?  They put them into a bowl of water to see if they could answer their questions.  What a simple way to introduce cause and effect for children!

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Pinecone Exploration and Experiments over at Preschool Powol Packets
Next I visited Science Sparks and checked out their pinecone weather station.  After a little research they found that when it is dry pinecones open up, and when it’s going to rain they close down.  So they placed four pinecones on a visible window sill outside as a weather station.  I think that this is an awesome visual and hands on activity for children.  I know our friends would eat this up, they would be checking out the window every day!  Can’t wait to give this one a try as well.

 

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Pinecone Weather Station from Science Sparks

Up next was Lemon Lime Adventures and their article on Why do Pinecones open up?  Their experiment used three different scenarios.  Adding a pinecone to Cold Water, Warm Water, and just air.  Once again this is an awesome visual for children to really see what is happening.  They can make predictions about what they think will happen, and then check back later to see if they were right.  Usually making hypothesis and predictions like this will lead to more questions and experimentation.  What a great way to get the learning wheels turning!

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Why do Pinecones Open? By Lemon Lime Adventures

And finally I visited Teach Preschool, one of my favorite blogs to check out their Pine Needles in a Bottle.  I think that this will make an excellent addition to our sensory bottle collection.  How easy is this?  They literally added pine needs, glitter, and water to an empty water bottle.  That’s it!  But the effect is unreal!  I love how she incorporated different sizes and shapes of water bottles to see how it changed the perspectives.  The curves of the water bottle naturally magnify the pine needles.  So simple, all free materials, this is definitely happening!

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Pine Needle Sensory Bottles from Teach Preschool

I think I found a pretty good round up of science activities.  The best part is that they all include little to no prep time or materials.  These will be excellent follow up activities to a nature walk outside, where we can observe the changes in our environment and gather supplies.
What other science activities do you like to incorporate with your young curious minds?

The Smells of Fall

Fall is one of my favorite times of year!  During our Fellowship Hour at Church one of these past Sundays, we had an Apple Theme.  So to get in the spirit, I decided to contribute some hot apple cider.  I soaked the apple cider with some orange slices the night before.
By the morning it already had a nice citrus-y flavor.  I then made a little “spice packet” with some cheese cloth and kitchen string.  I added cinnamon sticks and cloves to the packet.
Once I got to church, I added the cider and oranges with the “spice packet” to the crock pot and just cooked on high for 2 hours.  I made sure to remove the spices before serving, so that no one got an unpleasant surprise in their cup!  It was delicious, and you could equally taste the oranges and spice, they made the perfect balance!  The cider was a huge hit, and there were no left overs to bring home!
Since I was already in the Fall Spice mood, I decided to make a stove top Potpourri.  I added all the ingredients, and just simmered on the stove top for the day to make the house smell absolutely delicious!  Our apartment is fairly small, but I was surprised at how aromatic it really was, and stayed even after the heat was turned off!
For my Potpourri I just used what I already had around the house:
2 cups of water
1/2 cup of sugar
1 mini can of pineapple juice
1 cup of orange juice (squeeze from the leftover oranges from my apple cider)
1 lemon sliced (I used half a lemon, and used the other half to stuff a chicken that night!)
4 cinnamon sticks (left over from apple cider)
1 TBS. cloves (left over from apple cider)
The smell was a wonderful warm spice.  I went for a walk in the cold, just so I could come home and enjoy the lovely scent that it was giving off.  I would highly recommend this, if the liquid gets low, just add more water or OJ.  Simple as that!

On the days that I don’t feel like coming home and using the electric stove…I have an Apple Cider candle going from Yankee Candle.  Sure smells like fall…