That humble apple or lowly banana sitting in your fruit bowl provides more than just nutrients for your children's bodies. Use them and many other fruits to create games, activities and crafts that will entertain and educate your children for hours.
Learn the Alphabet and Numbers with Fruit
Play scavenger hunt and challenge your children to search the kitchen for fruits beginning with every letter of the alphabet. Make an alphabet booklet using fruit photos clipped from magazines. Count the number of raisins in a raisin box or the seeds in slice of watermelon.
Do Science Experiments with Fruit
Fruits can teach children about the effects of hydration and dehydration. Dry fresh grapes and apples for a few days. Show your children how to rehydrate the fruits by soaking them in water for a couple of hours. Discuss differences between the two types of fruit. Show them how a lemon, a couple of nails and some wire can generate electricity. Compare and contrast the time it takes to ripen fruit placed alone in a bag versus fruit place next to a banana in a bag.
Learn Math with Fruit
Fill a large bowl with fruit. Ask your children sort it by type of fruit, shape or size. Survey friends and family to determine their favourite fruit; graph the results.
Create Music with Fruit
Transform a watermelon into drums or use apples and papier mâché to create maracas. Turn strawberries and melons into a xylophone. Challenge your kids to make a ukulele from a coconut shell or a shaker instrument with dried melon seeds.
Play Games with Fruit
Many educational websites offer free downloadable flash cards and games. Flashcard Exchange has fruit flashcards that can be downloaded and then used to play card games like Concentration, Go Fish and Crazy Eight. The Utah Education Network website has fruit-themed bingo cards. Create printable crossword puzzles, word finds and word searches at the Armored Penguin website.
Create Art Masterpieces with Fruit
Cut out fruit photos from magazines; attach them to string and a hanger to make a fun mobile. Make edible sculptures out of grapes, peeled bananas, cherries and halved grapefruits. Carve designs in an apple or create mosaic pictures with dried fruit seeds.
Learn About Nutrition with Fruit
Try unusual fruits from other countries. Create a "tasting passport" and include photos of children trying the fruit, along with their opinions about the fruit's texture, taste, smell, colour and appearance.
Cook with Fruit
Peruse your library for simple children's cookbooks. Many include kid-friendly recipes like fruit pizza and berry smoothies. University Extension departments and websites are a great resource for easy recipes, too. One example is the KidsaCookin website published by Kansas State University Extension. It includes recipes for Breakfast Banana Splits, Pocket Fruit Pies and Apple Smiles. Other children-oriented websites may also provide simple fruit recipes. The PBS Kids' Zoom website has recipes using apples, bananas, grapes, strawberries and other fruit.