​Apples & Pumpkins
by Jen Holmstrom

Homeschooling allows us to explore and study seasons and events as they come. When Autumn arrives, we can’t help but think of the changing of the leaves and holiday decorations. This season can easily be integrated into your lesson plans. Introduce your children to the significance of Fall and why it is a vital part of the year. Weather change and the science of plant cycles are great lessons to do in the Fall. Expose them to the beautiful works of art that represent fall. Leaves changing and cold skies are popular images in famous works of art throughout history. Take your children on nature walks and explore the effects of Fall on your local surroundings. But some of the most prevalent signs of Fall have always been Apples and Pumpkins!

There is a fond tradition that sweeps the country when Fall sets in and families set out to enjoy time together - apple orchards and pumpkin farms. These traditions can be enriching and a wonderful supplement to any homeschool year.

Apple picking is one of the most popular seasonal activities. There are numerous orchards throughout the country that cater to public apple picking. Some may hand out baskets and allow you to pick as you please, and some may take you on a hay ride around the orchard and provide an informative tour while you stop and pick. It is a wholesome and enjoyable experience that tends to become a family tradition. Sky Top Orchard in North Carolina even has a barnyard filled with farm animals that can be visited. And Stribling Orchard in Virginia has a scenic picnic area, and they make apple cider and various other apple recipes. And Riley Farms in Southern California provides a theatrical presentation of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow to some of the guests! Most of the popular orchards offer both apple and pumpkin picking, and each orchard provides various activities for all ages, which makes this a perfect trip for the whole family.

Pumpkin picking is a staple for anyone who enjoys Fall and the upcoming holidays. Every child loves walking through the rows of pumpkins, examining each one carefully trying to decide which one they would like to take home. I have used a Pumpkin Investigation Worksheet in the past and it was a hit. It allowed my little ones to be directly involved in the picking process and introduced them to the process of a thorough investigation; not to mention compare and contrast.

Aside from the typical Halloween symbolism, pumpkins are essential to Fall décor. Pumpkin picking is also the first step to a delicious homemade pumpkin pie from scratch. What a great way to complete your child’s home education project for the month! A delicious way as well!

Look up your nearest orchard and be sure to call ahead; the weather may have affected their crops. But it is an activity you must join or put on your bucket list. They drive to your closest orchard may be an hour or two, but the experience is a unique one that will be sure to add fun to your seasonal lesson plan.

More for our members on field trips:

At HECOA, we LOVE field trips!  They are a great way to enhance your academic content and they really help kids to get hands-on experiences to extend the learner to much deeper levels.  We have articles as well as recorded webinars on field trips, and we have TWO amazing field trips scheduled at the national level for 2016 - one is to Yellowstone National Park in June 2016, and the other is to Washington D.C. in September!


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