How to Create an Apple Investigation


Ah, apples and September. As perfectly paired as peanut butter and jelly. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something so exciting about the start of school, the first crackle of a fall leaf, the students getting comfortable in your beautifully decorated classroom, and building relationships with each other…ah, I can almost hear the squealing now. Although these days, an apple a day (handed directly to you from the student) might not keep the doctor away, oh how times have changed in this pandemic, that doesn’t mean you can’t use them to teach MATH! 

And I’ve created an amazing, exciting, and engaging unit (if I do say so myself) for your kiddos to explore during your math block this September or any old month of the school year. Without further ado, let’s dive into **drumroll please**

 The Case of the Apple Orchard

Are your spidey-senses tingling? If this sounds a bit familiar, then you’re definitely in the right place, you friendly neighborhood teacher you. What we’re exploring today is similar to (and great to pair with!) another of my favorite math units, The Case of the Pumpkin Patch, from a previous post. (If I may be so bold to suggest: Get both for your classroom for less than $10 from my TpT Store and consider your fall math unit PLANNED and ready to GROW! (No, I will not apologize for loving puns!)

Another thing I love about “The Case of the Apple Orchard” math unit (I promise we’ll get to details in just a minute!) is that it can be done as a one-day activity or stretched out over a few lessons or weeks — whatever is best for your students. Plus, these days — everyone’s thinking it, I’m just saying it — this unit also works well both in person in the classroom AND as a remote lesson students can do at home. So no matter how we’re teaching our kiddos this year across the nation and world, we can still do some quality apple investigation!

Let’s dive in:

In this math unit, students join the detective force of the Apple Orchard Patrol (or A.O.P. as I like to say) as they follow the storyline to discover various attributes of the missing apple. They can work alone, in pairs, small groups, or as a whole class to take notes and solve the case. 

Plus, this unit is easily differentiable for several different elementary grade levels. You can use it for several lessons in Kindergarten when learning new skills. Or just as a quick review of skills in First Grade. Students use skills like prediction, measuring height, weight and circumference, graphing, and the scientific method to count the seeds inside and to test the apple’s floating ability.

While of course you can make this easily on your own, if you’re looking for a break you know I’ve made it all easily accessible and downloadable for you here: The Case of the Apple Orchard.

In the resource, you’ll receive: 

  • Teacher tips for planning
  • Booklet cover
  • Recommended resources to use during investigation
  • Apple tree life cycle page
  • apple trees through the season page
  • Labeling apple parts
  • Measuring height
  • Measuring weight
  • Measuring circumference
  • Sink/float test
  • Seed estimation and counting
  • Apple tasting recording page
  • Apple tasting graphing page
  • Apple adjectives page

The unit even finds creative ways to integrate other subjects, touching on the scientific life-cycle of apples and other produce or plant life and adjectives to describe Farmer Brown’s prize-winning apple. 

And if your students just can’t get enough, you may want to follow this math unit with a stellar non-fiction literacy apples unit, Awesome Apples, a week-long resource for kiddos in Kindergarten and 1st grade. I promise you’ll be the educator of everyone’s eye!

Fall is the perfect time for an apple investigation!  I love integrated units combining math, science, and hands on learning!  This apple unit is perfect for Kindergarten and First Grade students as they explore the world around them, use math to solve real world problems, and get their hands messy with science experiments!

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