Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Easy and Spooky Shrunken Apple Heads!

Do Halloween crafts rock your world?  Yes!?  Awesome.  They totally rock mine too.  Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year.  Costumes, magic, candy, gross things, spooky things—I love it all!
Tomorrow is the first day of October and I’m trying to squeeze in as many Halloween crafts as I can before the month is over.   Today I’m sharing a really neat Halloween activity that also doubles as a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) activity too.  We’re making shrunken apple heads! 

Super Easy and Spooky Shrunken Apple Heads

Halloween STEAM Activity for kids- Make shrunken apple heads!

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(Ha! My husband was weirded out my this little guy, but I think he’s just adorable.  Look at that toothy grin!)

Have you ever tried making shrunken apple heads before?

I’ve always shied away from the activity because the directions either required me to bake apples for a looong time (which isn’t feasible for us because we’re in the middle of a terrible heat wave) OR they required me to leave apples lying out the counter for a long, long time (also not possible because we’ve got major ant problems here.  I won’t get into details, but let’s just say the word swarm comes into mind.  Really gross.) 

But I found this set of directions in an old Chickadee Magazine and modified it to fit our hot/ant-infested situation.  And guess what?  It worked!  

Here are the materials you’ll need:
  •  Apple (At least 2- one for making, one for snacking on!)
  •  Peeler
  • Popsicle Sticks (We used the Jumbo kind
  • Googly eyes 
  •  Corn Kernels 
  • Large plastic Bag 
  • Plastic container
  • Baking Soda 
  •  Measuring Cups 
  • Salt 
  • Tacky Glue (We love this kind)
  •  Sharpie Markers

Now Let’s Shrink Some Apples!

Step 1:  Peel the apple.   (We did one apple and cut up another for a snack.)

Use a popsicle stick to cut out your faces from apple heads

Step 2:  Use a popsicle stick to carve out a face.  (This was the perfect tool for my preschooler.  He was able to dig into the flesh and cut out various shape without cutting himself.) 

carved apple face for shrunken apple head

Step 3:  (Optional) If you want your shrunken apple head to sit on a popsicle stick, take a stick and poke it in the bottom of your apple.  Now you’ll have the perfect stick indentation for later.

pour out baking soda to make shrunken apple head

Step 4:  In a large plastic bag combine ½ C of salt and 1 C of baking soda together.  Mix them together well!

baking soda and salt mixture for shrunken apple heads

Step 5:  Place your apple in the bag.  (We placed ours in a plastic bin to make sure the apple wouldn’t roll out.)

Step 6:  Leave the bag open and place it outside on the counter or in the fridge.   (We left ours in the fridge.)   Then, wait a week and see what happens! 

super easy Halloween activity- make shrunken apple heads with kids

Step 7:  Pull your apple out of the mixture.  Dust off any excess baking soda and salt.  What do you notice?  What’s the same about the apple?  What’s different?

glue on googly eyes and corn to your shrunken apple heads to give them personality

Now it’s time to decorate your shrunken apple heads.  Use a dab of tacky glue to adhere eyes and teeth.  To create a body, use sharpie markers to decorate a popsicle stick and poke it into the bottom of the apple.  (By the way, don't use hot glue.  It just won't work.  Trust me.)

And, I’m sure this goes without saying, but please don’t eat your shrunken apple head. 

Whoa.  Why does this work?

The salt and the baking soda help the apple to shrink.  They absorb the moisture and dry the apple out.  They also prevent the apple from rotting and molding.  Did you know the Egyptians used a similar method when they mummified their dead? Yup.  They covered the bodies in powder to dry them out.  Then, they wrapped them in linen.    They did such a good job of drying them out, that the mummies bodies are still in great condition today!

Why did you put your apple head in the fridge?

The original directions said to leave the apple out somewhere at home.  I’m sure this would have improved the appearance of our apple.  They would have dried out much nicer.  However, we have serious ant problems, so leaving food out just wasn’t an option for us.  But, we were still able to see a change in the apple’s appearance and talk about that.

I love this! Is there a way to extend this activity? 

Sure thing!  Here are some really simple ways to extend this activity with your kids: 
  • Fridge vs. Outside:   Try making 2 shrunken apple heads and leaving one in the fridge and one outside.  Wait a week.  What differences do you see?  Does one location result in a dryer apple?
  • Baking Soda and Salt vs. Naked Apple:  Make 2 shrunken apples.  Place on in the salt and baking soda mixture.  Place the other out without covering it in anything.  Wait a week.  Compare the differences in the two apples. 
  • What makes for a better drying agent?  Which one works better at drying the apple out: baking soda only, salt only, or a combination of the 2? 

Super easy Halloween STEAM activity- make shrunken apple heads with kids!

I really love how our shrunken apple heads turned out.  This was such an easy Halloween STEAM activity that got us creating together and talking about different scientific ideas.  We’ll definitely be repeating it in the future!

Looking for more awesome Halloween STEAM activities? 

Today’s your luck day, friend! Here are several other really neat ways to incorporate science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics with Halloween!

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Happy making, friends!

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