Disclosure: This blog contains affiliate links which I may earn a small commission from if you purchase through them, at no extra cost to you.
How would your toddler react if you set them up with an activity that meant they needed to destroy something? If you think this concept will bring them joy, please keep reading! DIY Crunchy Cotton Ball Apples are so easy ( and fun) to make and watching your child find so much happiness while learning is so rewarding for all involved!
DIY Crunchy Cotton Ball Apples Smash
There is a lot to be said for destructive play. This toddler-friendly activity is great for engaging your child in meaningful play. There is a touch of science, motor skill practice, hand-eye coordination and sensory fun to be had with these crunchy cotton balls.
What you need to make DIY Crunchy Cotton Ball Apples
- Medium Sized Mixing Bowl
- Baking Tray
- Silicone Baking Tray Liner or Baking Paper
- 1/2 cup of Plain Flour
- 1/2 cup of Water
- Food Colouring ( we used red and green)
- 4 Cotton Balls
- 4 Whole Cloves
The list of things you need to recreate this activity is not extensive, nor do you need any fancy equipment. This being said, they are still amazing! The trend seems to be that the simplest of activities are generally the most engaging and well-received at our place.
We made four Crunchy Cotton Ball Apples with these portions and there was enough leftover batter for another couple if we had wanted to make more. To create the two different colours, we made two batches of batter.
To save turning on and preheating our large oven, we used our air fryer to ‘cook’ our apples. This is purely to save time and energy. A traditional oven will have the same result so please do not fret if you see the pictures of us using the air fryer instead of our oven!
How to make DIY Crunchy Cotton Ball Apples
Making your apples is not complicated at all. With supervision, from batter to positioning the clove ‘stems’, Miss 3 loved making most of ours herself!
Preheat your oven to 150°C (300°F). We used the air fryer as our oven takes a good half an hour just to preheat.
The first step is the make the batter. Simply add your flour to the bowl, pour in the water and food colouring before whisking the mix together. We were after quite a strong colour so we added a generous slurp of colour into ours however this is something you can adjust to suit your preferences. A quick tip: start off slow and then once the ingredients begin to come together, pick up momentum to avoid a flour puff all over your kitchen!
Once complete, your batter should be free of lumps and quite thick – it can almost resemble a paste consistency.
The next step is where the fun begins! It can get messy however remember that mess only lasts for as long as until your clean it up, whereas fun memories last a lifetime!
Coating your cotton ball in the batter can be a pressure point. The batter does not simply stick to the cotton ball by stirring it. You need to use more of a folding technique to coat the cotton ball. Add your cotton ball to the bowl. Using your fork, drape the batter over the cotton ball. Drag the batter from under the cotton ball, bring it over the top before dropping it over the opposite side. Continue coating the cotton ball until it is completely encased in the batter before carefully lifting it from the bowl to the baking tray.
Repeat until all your cotton balls are covered in batter and resting on the tray. Decorate your apples with the cloves to replicate a stem and add a scent to your play. Simply push them gently into the batter on the top of the cotton ball.
Place them in the oven for about 45 minutes or until the batter has set to a hard outer shell. they are hot when they come out of the oven. Please ensure they have cooled entirely before giving them to your children to play with.
How to play with your DIY Crunchy Cotton Ball Apples
Aren’t these apples so easy to make? They really are great! There are many ways that you can use the apples in your child’s play. I’ll run through in a bit more detail how we used them, however, here is a list of different things you could use them for
- Small World Decor
- Game Pieces
- Colour Sorting
- Tens Frame Counting with Dice
- Hide and Seek
They really can become a versatile resource!
We were more interested in developing some hand-eye coordination with ours, so teamed them up with a little wooden hammer and a wooden board to get destructive!
Miss 3 was perplexed when I first made the suggestion that she hit her ‘fresh out of the oven’ apple a whack with her hammer. Once she started, her reservations quickly left and were rapidly replaced with enthusiasm!
Taking care not to tap her helping hand that was supporting the apple, Miss 3 started off with gentle taps before her confidence resulted in apple shards being scattered all over the place. It was a hit (pun intended)!
The hard shell of the cotton ball apple shattered easily were thin and was more of a challenge where the batter was thicker. This made for a great conversational topic too!
This activity, from creating the apples to smashing them, offers a plentiful of developmental skills to be developed and refined.
- Fine Motor Skills
- Hand-Eye Coordination
- Bilateral Coordination
- Crossing the Midline
- Cause and Effect
- Sensory Play
- Problem Solving Skills
- Following Oral Instructions
While making the apples and then however which way you choose to add them to your toddler’s play, this activity offers loads of opportunities for your toddler to make predictions and reflections.
Here are some conversational questions that you can ask along the way to support a deeper understanding of the activities and a richer meaningful play experience.
- What do you think will happen when you mix the flour and water together?
- When have we mixed flour and water together before?
- How much food colouring do you think we will need?
- What do you think the batter will feel like?
- How long do you think it will take to coat all the cotton balls?
- When have we coated something else in the kitchen?
- What do you think will happen after the cooking time is finished?
- Who do you think would you enjoy making cotton ball apples too?
- What do you think will happen once you start tapping the apple with the hammer?
- How hard do you think you will need to tap the apple before it cracks?
- What else could we use the apples for?
- What was the most challenging part while creating the apples?
- How come the apple breaks when struck by the hammer?
- What is something you would like to do differently next time we make crunchy apples?
Crunchy Cotton Ball Apples for the win!
These apples really are so easy to make and can be such a versatile resource. The apple smash is definitely an activity a little left of center and a refreshing break from me saying, “Please be mindful not to break….”
I hope you have as much fun with your crunchy apples as we had with ours! Please feel welcome to share your experience in our Play Inspired Mum Facebook
Stay safe and feel welcome to check out our other DIY play ideas
Dani D x