First, I sliced the oranges myself. I gave the children small bowls of salt mixed with spices like cloves and cinnamon. The purpose of the salt was to just thin out the spice and make it last longer. The children used pinches of spice to decorate and add aroma to the oranges.
The children enjoyed smelling the spices. By this point in the year, they are quite familiar with the different holiday spices.
We baked the oranges on parchment paper at 200 degrees for a few hours. If you keep the temp low, you can't bake them too long. We had to flip them a couple of times.
Later, I gave the children large embroidery needles and embroidery thread to string the dried orange slices and pre-tied bows:
The outcome was gorgeous and they enjoyed it. I will bake more orange slices so more children can make the garlands.
The thing is, children like to do things that they can take seriously. Play, for them, is one of those things. But to give them real needles and real thread and these beautiful orange slices that we spent time preparing...all of these "real" things call upon a sense of connection to each other and to the world. They are contributing something meaningful, for themselves and, in this case, to our Christmas tree.