HILL 'N DALE — A basket of fresh apples. A hand-cranked apple peeler. Pans of bright paint. And pies.
Yes, it looked like a fun morning for students and visiting parents last week in Eastside Elementary School kindergarten classrooms.
Using a Johnny Appleseed theme, teachers Ann Marie Gagnini, Jackie King, Sally Fernsel, Pamela Rimby and Cindy Armstrong invited parents to their classrooms for six activities that included kindergarten learning standards.
In Gagnini's room, the activities began with a group reading of the Johnny Appleseed story. Then students were divided among the stations set up around the room. At the sequencing table, the children colored pictures, cut them out and put them in chronological order to make little books.
At the messier, but popular, apple print table, the children took apple halves, dipped them into bright, fall-colored paints, carefully brushed off the excess and pressed them onto paper.
This activity was a favorite of Gabriel Sansone, 7.
"'Cause I love it," he said.
To reinforce math skills, students used measuring scales to compare different-size apples. Each child put plastic bears in the container on one side of the scale and one apple in the other side, trying to even them out. They counted the bears from each attempt and logged their results.
At the apple fun headband station, the children created headbands decorated with die-cut apples, leaves, stamps, stickers and crayons. Parent volunteers stapled them, and the children were able to take them home.
The apple preparation table offered children the chance to use a hand-cranked apple peeler, with parents' help. They were preparing the apples to make either applesauce or apple pie.
The measuring, mixing and making table was the place for the students to see how recipes are used to prepare food. They identified ingredients and saw how to use measuring tools.
The activities, principal Tim Urban explained, are an example of "an inquiry-based approach" to learning, as described by Common Core State Standards. "We've had to change the way we teach our children. They actually solve the problems."
The children seemed to like it.
Ace Carroll, 6, had a favorite station.
"The machine that takes all the stuff off the apple," he said.
Earlier, Ace had learned about Johnny Appleseed.
"He planted apple seeds, and his feet were so tough that a rattlesnake couldn't bite his skin, and at the end he finally found his place and planted all his apple seeds," Ace said.
Ace's mother, Tanya Carroll, was a volunteer at the event and said Gagnina was her older son's kindergarten teacher, as well. She is a big supporter of activities like the Appleseed event.
"I think any kind of children interaction with parents and teachers is awesome," she said. "It makes them feel good."
Patsy Collett agreed. She was there with her grandson, Nicholas Peterson, 5.
"I think it's pretty good," she said. "It's teaching the kids and showing us what they can do."
Gabriel Sansone's mother, Frances Sansone, was at school, too, and added her own praise.
"I think it's really nice, the parents interacting with the kids," she said, impressed that they were learning how to make apple pie. "I usually grab one out of the freezer!"