Sunday, November 8, 2009

Fall Fun - Shrinking Heads

We had a Fall Festival Week at our homeschool the week of October 19th through the 21st. We incorporated fall themed things that week, including fall crafts, learning about why leaves change color in the fall for science, using fall themed manipulatives for math (using acorns and leaves for counting games, etc.) and having fall words on spelling lists. It was a lot of fun and several of the next posts will outline some of the things we did during fall festival week in greater detail.

A fun activity that spanned much longer than the week was our Shrinking Heads activity.


Apples, Sharp Knife (for adult use only!), plastic knife, spoon, and fork (for older kids to use), peeler, lemon juice, cookie sheet, wax paper, toothpicks, craisins & dry rice (or other small foods to use as decoration).

To create Shrinking Heads, we picked three less-than-stellar picks from our apple orchard adventure. We washed them, then peeled most of the apple. On Angie's apple we peeled the skin from the entirety of one side of the apple, and then in strips on the backside to effectively create 'hair'. On John & Laura's apples we peeled it all the way around except on the top and bottom.

Once the apples are peeled, John & Laura used the plastic fork, knife and spoon to carve their own faces in the apple. They carved a face on either side of their apples, ending up with a 'two-faced' shrinking head! It is important to carve features in an exaggerated fashion, because as the apple shrivels and shrinks the features will become more diminutive. I used a sharper knife to carve a face into Angie's apple.

When the faces had been carved, we began to decorate them with other foods. While raisins work well for this, we only had craisins on hand. We used a toothpick (sometimes broken in half) to spear through a craisin and affix to the apple for eyes. Laura also used toothpicks for arms. In the mouths that we carved, we delicately speared dry rice into the mouth in intervals to look like teeth on top and bottom. This was hysterical!

We then placed the carved apples onto a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. It is recommended to keep them in a dark, dry place for 8-10 days for them to shrivel effectively and not mold. We used the inside of our oven for this. One downfall is forgetting the apples were in there and setting the oven to preheat for a meal or baking...and not remembering the shrinking heads were inside until we began to smell a lovely baked apple smell! Though this happened several times (I should have put a 'Beware: Shrinking Heads" sign on my oven to remind me!), it didn't seem to harm the Shrinking Heads much. It may have actually sped up the shrinking!

We checked the apples every couple of days and saw the progression. It did take quite some time before the apples had sufficiently shrunk. The after pictures here were taken about 13 days after we carved the apples.

We were out of town during the Halloween weekend, but if we had not been, I would have hung them with string outside on our porch somewhere as decoration for Trick or Treaters!

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