Teaching measurements is more fun than a bushel of peaches

August 13, 2004|by Lisa Tedrick Prejean

"I love you a bushel and a peck

A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck

A hug around the neck and a barrel and a heap

A barrel and a heap and I'm talking in my sleep

About you, about you"

When I sing Frank Loesser's song from "Guys and Dolls" to my 5-year-old, she giggles and tells me I'm silly.

Not that she complains. She loves the attention.

I can tell that she's listening closely to the lyrics.

The other day she asked, "Mommy, what's a bushel?"

Since she has seen bushel baskets at her grandparents' house, that was the connection I made first: "You know those big baskets that Pappy and Nanny use? That's a bushel. The songwriter was using that to illustrate that his love is great - a large amount."


She thought about that for a minute and then asked, "Well, what is a peck, or are you singing pack? That doesn't make sense."

I assured her that she was hearing the short "e" - as in egg - and that a peck is smaller than a bushel.

A bushel typically will contain about 100 pieces of fruit, if the fruit is about 3 inches in diameter, says John R. Martin, owner of Ivy Hill Farm near Ringgold.

A child may like knowing that she tips the scale at about the same weight as a full bushel basket.

A bushel basket containing 100 apples weighs about 42 pounds. A bushel of peaches weighs about 50 pounds, Martin says. In quarts, that's equal to about 32, dry measure.

Those measurements are cut in half for the half bushel, which contains about 50 apples or peaches, weighs about 25 pounds and provides 16 quarts, dry measure.

A peck, which is half of a half bushel, is the next smallest measurement. There will be about 25 apples or peaches in a peck, which will weigh about 12.5 pounds and will provide 8 quarts, dry measure.

Martin suggests teaching children that when fruit trees and other deciduous trees lose their leaves, they are going to sleep. They have to rest until spring.

"We are very appreciative of the tree going to sleep," Martin says. "We don't want it to wake up too early."

Parents can relate to that, especially on Saturday mornings.

If you attend the Leitersburg Peach Festival this weekend, you might want to point out the different sizes of fruit baskets and see if your child can guess which is which.

If your child asks a fruit-related question that you can't answer, you might want to find Martin, who will be on hand selling his Harmony peaches, jams and jellies.

Preschool children might enjoy looking at the beautiful photographs in Bruce McMillan's "Growing Colors," and the vibrant illustrations in Lois Ehlert's "Eating the Alphabet: Fruits and Vegetables From A to Z." Both are available at Washington County Free Library.

Lisa Tedrick Prejean writes a weekly column for The Herald-Mail's Family page. Send e-mail to her at

The Herald-Mail Articles