I don’t know whether it’s because my mom was a teacher or because I became a teacher and have been doing this for the last forty years… but I LOVE apples. I keep an apple collection: marble, ceramic, crystal, brass – all kinds of apples to remind me that school has just started and like the crisp, fall apples – the year is full of sweetness and possibility.
One of my most favorite things to do in the fall is bake with children: picking, washing, peeling, slicing and incorporating apples into pies, cakes, and muffins. It is not fall to me until the classroom is filled with that apple, sugar, cinnamon scent. And it’s those memories students are fond of the most, the ones they want to repeat no mater how old they become. As the years pas, it has become important for me to provide apple memories to our Kindergarten students by reading the book, Apple Pigs by Ruth Orbach, and making the aforementioned apple pigs.
The book was first published in 1978, the year I graduated college. When I became a nursery school teacher, I read the book to my young students. They loved the rhyming text and the multitude of creatures who came to the apple feast. At one point, Apple Pigs went out of print, and I couldn’t find it anywhere! Even my local library had lost their rag-tagged copy. However, last year I decided to try one more time to find a copy. I was happily surprised that Apple Pigs had been reprinted in England. I quickly bought a copy and read it aloud to the Kindergarteners. They loved the story and rejoiced in making the pigs. Throughout the week, many children would find me to thank me for reading. They’d ask me when I was coming again and what we were going to make next. Even older students, remembered the pigs and asked to make them again. It always amazes me how important good stories and good food stick in children’s memories.
I think this activity is so appealing to children not only because they get to eat marshmallows, but because they take simple ingredients are able to quickly make something beautiful and delicious. They want to make it again. They go home and tell their family and friends. Apple pigs has become a tradition. It is a tradition I gladly share now with generations of students.