Making Applesauce a Teachable Moment, Thanks to Volunteers

It isn’t just about the applesauce for Julie Goodman’s first-grade class at Bernice Vossbeck Elementary. Although, the applesauce sure is a welcome addition to the finish of a lesson.

Each week in first grade, Goodman uses a theme. A recent week centered that theme on apples and Goodman—as she has done every year since she first started teaching first grade at BVE 18 years ago—made applesauce with her students.

The project has a variety of components, including an educational one and an opportunity for students to experience something different.

At the start of the project, students guessed how heavy their apples were using an in-class weighing system and then predicted the circumference of their apples using a string for measurement. Then they checked the hypotheses. “This teaches them the idea of making predictions and it’s okay that they aren’t correct,” Goodman says.

Each year the actual applesauce production may vary, including having the students help with an apple peeler or a coring device. Throughout the process, the help of volunteers—including this year with Goodman’s mom, an approved volunteer and retired teacher herself—proves critical in keeping the opportunity on track.

“I could not do this without the help of volunteers,” Goodman says. “It is much quicker with adults.” As the year goes on, Goodman will start bringing in additional volunteers to help with projects.

After all the academic measuring and predicting and the work of preparing the apples, Goodman says the best part always comes in the eating. “One of the things I love about this project is teaching kids how delicious plain applesauce without sugar is,” she says. “I ask them all to take a ‘no thank you’ bite and I usually see kids asking for seconds and thirds. I think they were the most excited to make the applesauce and eat it.”

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