Here’s a fun little science and nature craft just in time for Halloween. The kids and I made shrunken apple heads this month and it’s been great fun watching them change over time.
All you need are some apples (we used imperfect ones off a generous neighbor’s tree), salt and lemon juice.
First peel your apples. You can leave a little on the top and bottom like a little hat and scarf.
Then give your child some carving tools (a chopstick, grapefruit spoon or pen knife all work well, depending on your child’s age and skill level with tools). You can trace your design first with a pen or pencil, if you like.
Carve out a face, making sure to make each feature large since they will shrink up and collapse somewhat.
Then mix up some salt and lemon juice and apply it all over, especially in the parts you’ve carved out. This will prevent mold and also protect them from getting too brown. If you like, you can talk to the kids about how salt has been used for thousands of years to preserve foods and other things, and how acids like lemon juice slow oxidation (browning caused by a chemical reaction when substances react with oxygen).
Now just put your apple heads somewhere to dry. Choose a location where you can watch them and keep up with how they change.