They come in shades of red, green, and yellow. They’re used in pies, crisps, cobblers, and dumplings.  Eating one a day keeps the doctor away – or so the old saying goes. Apples are a favorite fall fruit. Just the mention of the word conjures up pleasant memories – napping under an old apple tree in the backyard, picking the fruit in a local orchard, baking an apple pie in Grandma’s kitchen, or sipping warm cider by the fireplace. The apple months are ahead, so now is the time to plan some enjoyable activities for your group. Here’s a “bushel” of suggestions.

  • Offer a variety of red, yellow, and gold apples for a tasting party. Name popular varieties for eating and cooking (Red Delicious, Stayman, Rome, Gala, Granny Smith, Fuji, McIntosh, Braeburn). Describe the taste and texture of the apples (crisp, tart, juicy, sweet, crunchy, plump).  Ask: Did you have a family tradition of picking apples? Tell us about an afternoon at the orchard. Did you ever plant an apple tree in your backyard? What’s your favorite kind of apple for snacking? Have you ever gone to a fall apple festival? What did you do there?
  • Display apple props: apple peeler/corer, pie pans, wooden rolling pin, baking dishes, wooden basket, apple pie spices, apple recipe cards/baking books, vintage apron with apple pattern. Ask: Do you have any apple dessert recipes (ex: Grandma’s apple cake or Aunt Betty’s apple fritters) that have been passed down to you from family members? Is the recipe still in use today? Do you associate the recipe with a particular holiday or family event? Serve participants a slice of warm apple pie with a favorite topping – ice cream or cheddar cheese.
  • Stencil bright red apples on white and grey t-shirts for participants to wear. Or wear red apple lapel pins.
  • Listen to some favorite “apple” songs: “Little Green Apples,” “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree With Anyone But Me,” “In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree,” “I’ll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time,” “Apple, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie,” “Ida! Sweet as Apple Cider.”
  • Pass around a copy of the Ball Blue Book of Preserving. Reminisce about old-time apple activities on the farm: annual late summer ritual of “putting up” orchard fruit; cooking apple butter in a copper kettle over a fire; using a cider press; making a batch of applesauce with a grinding mill/strainer and wooden pestle. Sample crabapple jelly on hot biscuits.
  • Locate a 1930s recipe for Ritz Mock Apple Pie (on the Internet). Ask participants to talk about the popularity of the pie during the Depression.
  • Challenge group members to tell how the following are associated with apples: Isaac Newton, Adam & Eve, Apple computer, teacher’s desk, The Big Apple, Adam’s apple, William Tell, Johnny Appleseed, Snow White, and Halloween parties.
  • Share memories of the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest, which began in 1949. Find out how many of the grand prize-winning recipes used apples (ex: 1958 – Spicy Apple Twists). Ask participants if they have ever entered a baking contest or had an entry in the county fair. Share memories of winning a blue ribbon for baked goods.
  • Make a scented dried apple wreath. Add a colorful ribbon to hang. Invite a local crafter to demonstrate how to make a dried apple head doll.
  • Discuss the uses of apple cider vinegar as a home remedy. Talk about other food remedies, like honey, molasses, garlic, and lemon.
  • Look up some apple-related records in the Guinness World Records book: heaviest apple ever picked, largest apple pie ever made, or longest continuous apple peel. Check out other fruit records.
  • Intergenerational: Celebrate Johnny Appleseed Day on September 26. Display photographs of an apple tree in the four seasons and talk about how the tree changes with each season. Make a simple apple treat. Cut an apple in half and sponge paint “star” prints. Hold an apple relay game or an apple stacking contest. Guess the number of seeds in an apple. Predict the weight of a peck of apples. Make an apple magnet.
  • Display photographs of apple trees during various times of the year. Read some poetry related to the popular fruit: “The Planting of the Apple Tree”/William Cullen Bryant, “After Apple Picking”/Robert Frost, “The Cow in Apple Time”/Robert Frost, “An Apple Gathering”/Christina Rossetti, “A Drop Fell on the Apple Tree”/Emily Dickinson, “The Apple Tree”/Jane Taylor, “The Old Apple Tree”/Paul Laurence Dunbar. Talk about any symbolic meanings of the apple/apple tree. Share favorite images from the poems.
  • In honor of Grandparents’ Day on September ll: Make an apple picture frame for photos of grandchildren. Talk about the meaning of the phrase “the apple of my eye.” Encourage group members to talk about the joys of grandparenting.
  • Explain these apple sayings: as American as motherhood and apple pie, don’t upset the apple cart, rotten apple, compare apples to oranges, a case of sour apples, in apple-pie order.


Looking at an apple tree often reminds people of a favorite song, like the 1940s tune like “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree With Anyone But Me.”  Perhaps you think of a loved one when you see apple trees in blossom.  Soon you’re humming a familiar tune, “I’ll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time.” The CD Sing-Along with ElderSong, Volume 2, features recordings of 28 old songs in low, singable keys, with vocals. The set includes a large-print lyrics book (with extra books available at quantity discounts). Here’s a sample of the songs your group might enjoy singing together: “In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree,” “I’ll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time,” “In the Good Old Summertime,” “Keep the Home Fires Burning,” “How Ya Gonna Keep ’Em Down on the Farm,” “I Want a Girl,” “The Band Played On,” and “Oh! Susanna.”

You’ve probably heard the saying many times: as American as apple pie! Any way you slice it, apples remind us of motherhood, baseball, the flag, and…home. Stir up nostalgic memories of apple picking time with a trivia quiz or two. The book Mind Joggers, Volume 3, features quizzes titled “Fruit Basket Upset” and “Fruit Cocktail” that can be used for fillers or a longer session with your group. Here are a few sample questions: What’s the difference between sweet cider and hard cider? What is apple pan dowdy? What does it mean to “apple polish”? The resource has 49 inventive quiz topics, including Barns, Colorful Nature, Measure Your Eye-Q, Mountains, A Pile of Cards, Ring Shapes, Slang, Strange Animals, Umps, Whistles, and Ye Old House.


1.      Which round fruit is used to make cider vinegar? Apple

2.      Which fruit, served at Thanksgiving, grows in bogs? Cranberries

3.      Which fruit is associated with George Washington? Cherry (tree)

4.      Anjou, Bartlett, and Comice are varieties of which popular fall fruit? Pear

5.      Name some familiar citrus fruits. Lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit

6.      Which fuzzy fruit is the state of Georgia famous for? Peach

7.      Which fruit is crushed to make wine? Grapes

8.      What’s a dried plum called? Prune

9.      Which soft red fruit is often paired with whipped cream on shortcakes? Strawberry

10.  Miss Chiquita is a famous brand character for which fruit? Banana


“Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.” ~ Martin Luther

“APPLE PICKING TIME” written by Sue Hansen. © 2011 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.

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