applesauce in a small dish with a cut apple next to it

Making Applesauce – A Sensory Experience

Making applesauce is a great STEM cooking activity because it is both a hands-on and a multisensory experience. This activity allows kids to explore the science of cooking while also engaging all their senses of smell, taste, touch, and more. Making applesauce is a fun interactive way to teach kids about the chemical reactions that occur when food is cooked, and it is also a fun and delicious way to enjoy the fruits of their labor!

Most of all it is a simple way to cook with kids, and it's very engaging for kids.

two kids with chefs hats holding an appled

What is Multi-Sensory Learning?

Multi-sensory learning is a type of learning that incorporates multiple senses, including sight, sound, touch, and smell. This type of learning has been shown to be more effective than traditional methods that rely on only one sense. Multi-sensory learning is often used in classrooms, as it can help students better remember and understand concepts. There are a variety of ways to incorporate multi-sensory learning into the home as well, such as cooking, crafting, and hands-on activities.

One advantage of multi-sensory learning is that it can help our kiddos with different learning styles. For example, a child who is a visual learner may benefit from seeing pictures or diagrams along with hearing an explanation. A kinesthetic learner may benefit from moving around and touching objects while they learn. Multi-sensory learning can also be used to accommodate different learning abilities. For instance, a child who has difficulty reading may benefit from hearing a book read aloud while following along with the text.

Have You Heard of the Seven Senses?

We all know about sight, touch, hearing, smell, and taste.  What about proprioceptive and vestibular?  If you have a “sensory kid”  you've likely heard of these, but we don't often learn about them in grade school. 

The following brief definitions are from the Wikipedia Sensory Integration Page.

vestibular sense (balance and the sense of movement)

proprioception (the sense of knowing one's position in space)

I also suggest a sensory swing to help with your littles vestibular sense.

Making Applesauce – A Sensory Experience

Learning about the science of cooking can be a fun and delicious experience, especially when you make applesauce! This activity is great for kids because it is both a hands-on and a multisensory experience. Here are some of the things your child will get to experience while making applesauce:

The sense of sight

Look at the beautiful color of the apples, notice the variations of green and red on the skin. Sort out any that need extra care to remove blemishes.

When making applesauce, kids can see how different colors result from cooking by using different types of apples. For example, if they use red apples, the sauce will likely be pink or red. If they use green apples, the sauce will likely be yellow or green. This is a great opportunity for kids to see how different colors can result from cooking.

Sense of Touch

Kids can help to peel and chop the apples, and then feel the applesauce as it thickens up while cooking. Throughout the process, will be able touch different textures from smooth apple skin to the rough apple core.

Sense of Hearing

Listen to the sound of the peeler as it goes round and round.  Put the apple pieces in a pot with a stitch of water and listen for when you can hear the apples start to sizzle and cook.

Kids can enjoy the sounds of the apples being cooked down into a delicious sauce. As the apples cook, they will make a bubbling noise as the water boils off. This is a fun sound for kids to listen to as they watch their applesauce come to life!

chopped apples in a pot

Sense of Smell

As the apples cook, their strong scent will fill up the kitchen. This is a great opportunity to talk about how our sense of smell works. Explain to your child that our noses are lined with tiny little hairs called cilia. These cilia trap particles from the air, like the scent molecules from cooking apples, and send them to our brains. Our brains then interpret these particles as smells. Did you know that our sense of smell is 10,000 times more sensitive than our sense of taste? That means that we can smell things that we can't even taste!

Lift the lid and smell the aroma of cooking apples. Cinnamon is another great way to diversity the flavor and scent.

Sense of Taste

Making applesauce is a great way to engage your sense of taste! When you cook the apples, they release their natural sweetness, making for a delicious and healthy treat. You can add any other flavors you like to customize your applesauce, such as cinnamon or nutmeg. The possibilities are endless!

Vestibular Sense

Let your child carry the heavy apples to where you'll be working.  Movement stimulates the vestibular system and heavy loads send satisfying signals to the brain about how the body moves and works.

Proprioceptive Sense

Let the apples cook until they are soft then give your child a potato masher and let them mash down the apples into applesauce.  Mashing is great “heavy work” for kids, giving them lots of good sensory input, helping them learn about where their body is in space.

Making applesauce is a fun and delicious way to enjoy the fruits of your labor! This activity allows you to explore the science of cooking while also engaging your senses of smell, taste, touch, and more. Making applesauce is a great STEM cooking activity because it is both a hands-on and a multisensory experience. This activity is a fun interactive way to teach kids about the chemical reactions that occur when food is cooked. Not only is making applesauce a great way to learn about science, but it is also a delicious and healthy snack for everyone to enjoy!