AppleQuest Teachers' Page

Overview: This apples WebQuest activity is designed to introduce students to topics related to growing apples, including hardiness, varieties, rootstocks, pollination, and grafting. It is meant to be interdisciplinary, integrating math, reading, and science. Students work in teams to plan an apple orchard that would flourish in the area where they live. In order to accomplish this task, they must learn about and choose a rootstock for their trees, decide how many trees to plant, determine how far apart to space their trees, and choose which apple varieties to plant.

Grade Level: This activity is intended for students in the intermediate grades and above. 

Outcome: Students will learn about apple varieties and how they are grown as they plan an apple orchard appropriate for their geographic region.

Introduction/Focusing: Bring four or more different kinds of apples to class, including at least one that is primarily a cooking apple. Try to choose apples that look and taste differently. Cut them into slices so that all students can have at least one bite of each. As they taste each variety, ask them to write down one or two words that describe the apple's taste and characteristics. Have them read their descriptive words aloud, and comment on the differences that students noted. Ask if they can guess the names of the varieties of apples they tasted. Write the names of the varieties on the board, and ask students to tell you the names of any other apple varieties they can think of. Then ask them how many different kinds or varieties of apples they think there are in the world. Write the highest and lowest estimates on the board. Tell them that there are at least 7500 different kinds (varieties) of apples grown worldwide, that more than 2500 different varieties are grown in the United States, and that apples can be grown in almost every state, including Alaska!

Ask the students if they know what kinds of apples can be grown in your area. If your class or some of the students in your class have visited an orchard, ask about the kinds of apples they saw growing there. Tell them the names of some favorite local varieties, and then explain that they are going to learn about apples that can be grown locally by planning a community apple orchard.

Procedure: Place your students into mixed-ability groups of four. Have them proceed through the 12 steps on the AppleQuest Student Page. If you do not have sufficient computer access to have your students read the assignment documents online, print them. I have developed the documents listed at the bottom of this page, and you are welcome to duplicate any or all of them. Many of the documents to which I have linked are publications of university cooperative extension services and are probably available for free use, so many of them, particularly the lists of recommended apple varieties, could also be reproduced.

Closure: After completing steps 11 and 12 on the
AppleQuest Student Page, estimate the number of apples their orchards may eventually produce when the trees are mature. To accomplish this, calculate the number of bushels that might be harvested (8 bushels from each full-sized tree, 5 bushels per semi-dwarf tree, and 2 bushels per dwarf tree). Assuming that there are about 100 apples per bushel, multiply the total yield in bushels by 100. You might then discuss which type of orchard would produce the largest crop (full-sized, semi-dwarf, or dwarf) as well as advantages and disadvantages of each orchard type. What you would do with all those apples might make even a better topic for discussion!

1. Have students visit the nursery sites page to find out where they could order the varieties they picked for their orchards. Compare the prices at the nursery sites to those listed in part five of the process section above.
2. Students can learn more about apple rootstocks by visiting the links at the bottom of the
apple rootstocks page.
3. Students might find it interesting to investigate the history of apples in your area. When were apples first planted? Who planted them? What varieties did they plant? They can go to Apple History and Information Links to get started.
4. Suggest that students add other types of fruit trees to their orchards. Have them replace some of the apple trees with pears, plums, cherries, and other types of fruit that will grow well in your area.
5. Does your area have a community garden and (or) a gardening club? If so, students (or the teacher) could contact those involved with the garden or club and invite them to visit your classroom. Perhaps they might provide a speaker or arrange a tour for your class.

AppleQuest Student Page

Please feel free to use any or all aspects of this activity with your students!

Have questions or comments about this page? My name is
Edmund J. Sass, Ed.D.
You can reach me at