As summer draws to a close and autumn arrives, the richness of the season invites us to see the changing colors, hear the crackle of falling leaves, feel the cooler temperatures, smell the warm spices and taste the seasonal harvest.

One of the most outstanding features of fall is the ripening of apples: red, yellow and green. The crisp, sweet fruit is delicious whether eaten raw or baked into a pie. But this iconic fall fruit also provides a wealth of seasonal STEAM projects for elementary kids. These fun fall learning activities capitalize on the best of the season through engagement in science, technology, engineering, art and math.

Edible Apple Activities

Kids of all ages love apples. From preschool onward, the humble fruit can support a variety of delicious and enlightening projects.

Apples provide tasty and healthy opportunities to enjoy favorite recipes. Raw apples are a delicious and satisfying snack that can be enjoyed fresh from the tree on an apple picking trip to an orchard. But bring home a bushel, and you can try some of these additional yummy ideas.

Oven-baked apple chips

Kids can help you peel and slice apples in thin horizontal slices to be slowly dehydrated in the oven. Be sure to talk about how dehydration is a chemical change that causes water to be released from the apple slices thus concentrating the sugars while drying them out. Try different types of apples and let kids pick their favorites. They also make an interesting and crunchy add-in to a healthy fall salad.

Apple stacks

After you wash and slice apples horizontally, have kids help to spread the slices with nut butter, then sprinkle them with granola. They can then be reassembled into stacks that can be wrapped up and added to a school lunch or picnic basket.

Apple and cheese skewers

Apples and cheese are a classic combination that provides protein and calcium along with the vitamins, antioxidants and fiber of the fruit. Cut cheese and apples into dice-sized pieces, and let kids thread them on skewers or large toothpicks alternating the cheese and fruit. If not to be eaten immediately, you may wish to dunk the apple cubes in acidulated water (1T. of lemon juice per cup of water) to prevent oxidation. Talk to kids about this chemical reaction that causes apples to turn brown once they are cut and exposed to air.

Caramel apple squares

Another classic pairing is apples and caramel. This baked treat is a seasonal delight kids will look forward to making each year when fall rolls around.

STEAMy Apple Projects

Aside from the edible treats, apples can support so many fun explorations with science, technology, engineering, art and math:

Quantified deliciousness

With 2500 varieties of apples grown in the U.S. and 7500 grown worldwide, fall is a great time to try some of the 100 types grown commercially. Have kids select a few varieties to sample and offer wedges to family and friends, polling them on their favorite. Let kids collect the data and compile a bar graph or pictograph to display it.

See what’s inside

Help kids carefully dissect an apple, noting the different parts. Try planting the seeds, then read the story of Johnny Appleseed while waiting for them to sprout.

Real-world application

Older kids can use fun facts about apples to generate research or engineering project ideas. Read a book about apples, then challenge kids to design a tool or process for picking, washing or cutting and peeling apples.

Turn the phrase

Brainstorm a list of all the apple-related sayings you can think of. For example, “the apple of my eye” or “an apple a day.” Ask kids to research the origins of these phrases and share what they learn.

DIY printing

Make colorful fall wrapping paper from sheets of white or brown kraft paper covered with apple prints. Cut apples in half, some sliced vertically and some horizontally. Apples cut vertically will print the characteristic heart shape, while those cut horizontally show a star pattern in the middle.

Kids can paint the cut sides with acrylic or tempera paint in apple colors of red, green and yellow. Firmly press the apples paint-side-down on solid-colored paper to create beautiful prints and patterns.

Once dry, the printed paper can be made into seasonal placemats or used to wrap fall birthday gifts. Another fun craft involves folding and cutting colored paper to create 3-D fruit.

Explore oxidization

Kids can conduct a food science experiment that investigates which fruit juice works best to prevent apples from oxidizing and turning brown. If the fruit juice is the independent variable, then keep every other variable the same. That includes apple type, slice size, fruit juice to water ratio, and length of exposure time.

Seasonal Fun Motivates Year-round Enjoyment

Though a common and familiar fruit, apples, nonetheless, capture kids’ imagination and interest. Fall is a great time to involve kids in STEAM projects that engage them in seasonal learning activities that double as nutritious snacks (and loads of fun). Getting kids involved in kitchen STEAM projects can motivate year-round enjoyment as each season brings characteristic ingredients and holiday inspirations.

STEAM-Powered Camps & Classes

Elementary kids inspired by seasonal STEAM activities will love project-based learning with STEAM-powered enrichment activities. The imaginative, hands-on projects and camps at Galileo Anywhere combine art and science. Explore the schedule to see what’s coming up next.