Johnny Appleseed Activities in the Elementary Classroom 

Apples, pumpkins, and gourds…oh my! It’s almost the most wonderful time of the year! Not the Christmas season, but the autumn season! We are “fall-o-philes.” We love fall, y’all! With fall, comes Johnny Appleseed activities in the elementary classroom. One of our favorite things.

My mother and I have tons of elementary teaching experience collectively. In fact, I taught elementary school longer than middle school. 

We have a fondness for the elementary grades, and one of our favorite features of elementary school is the opportunities to incorporate fun, interesting lessons with artistic elements. Learning all about Johnny Appleseed in the fall is a way to do this!

The apple activities, the fun fall books, and the interesting facts about Johnny Appleseed, whose real name was John Chapman, are all perfect ingredients for a September lesson.

Johnny Appleseed’s birthday is September 26, so here are enjoyable and educational ideas you can use to teach about him this fall.

Books and More Books!

Here is a list of our favorite Johnny Appleseed books: 

Johnny Appleseed by Anastasia Suen (Adorable facts read to the tune of “The Muffin Man”)

Johnny Appleseed by Reeve Lindbergh (rhymed text and illustrations)

Johnny Appleseed: My Story (Step Into Reading) by David Harrison (a fun biography of his life) My mom said this one was her favorite because it answered so many questions about Johnny Appleseed in a fun, easy way.

Johnny Appleseed by Stephen Benet (Johnny in his later years, beautiful illustrations and verse)

Who Was Johnny Appleseed? By Joan Hubb (a chapter book for your advanced or older readers)

Arts & Crafts

Students can make apple stamping paintings.

Johnny Appleseed Activities in the Elementary Classroom 

Have students design their own apple orchard on construction paper. Kiddos cut out apple trees and apples and glue the apple trees onto green or blue construction paper. Have students cut out multiple trees for their orchards and encourage them to choose their own types of apples (green, yellow, or red!) for them.

Students can paint a brown paper bag the color of their favorite apple. Stuff with tissue paper and top with a stem. This makes a 3-D apple craft. 

Using a round coffee filter, students use watercolors to paint their own apples. Top with a stem and leaf. 

Students can even make a Johnny Appleseed Hat to wear. Here is a cute free version from Simply Kinder that we found. 

Writing

Speaking of arts and crafts, “craftivities” are the emergence of writing with an art project. We love “craftivities!” 

Here is our own Johnny Appleseed craftivity. Students research all about Johnny’s life, write a paragraph about their research findings and then glue it all together into a craft that can be displayed. They are “apple-so-lutely adorable!” 

The video below shows my son putting one together. 

Grab your Johnny Appleseed Craftivity today!

Another writing craftivity is having students write fun facts on Johnny Appleseed’s famous hat. 

Since Johnny Appleseed made the world a more beautiful place by planting apple trees, read the story Miss Rumphius, as a way to compare and contrast how Miss Rumphius added beauty to the world. Next, have students write a paragraph on what they would choose to do to make the world a more beautiful place just like Johnny Appleseed did.

 Check out our blog on Miss Rumphius HERE.  

Click over to learn more about
Miss Rumphius today.

Apple Fun 

Using a variety of apples, students can make predictions as to which apple will taste the best. Make a predictions apple pictograph, and then have a fun taste testing. Next, you can graph the actual favorite results and compare and contrast. 

Using an apple per group, have students predict how many seeds are in their apple. Cut open the apple for students to count. Then, they can compare their prediction to the actual total. Bonus points for graphing this as well!

When I taught upper elementary school, we would work together to make applesauce. Using supervision, guidance, and kid-friendly utensils, we would peel the apples. I would cut them into chunks and we threw them into a crock-pot in my classroom. We worked together measuring out the cinnamon, brown sugar, nutmeg, butter and water and adding it to the apple chunks. It would cook all day and make our classroom smell lovely. I would refrigerate it overnight and the next day, we would enjoy our creation!

Similar to taste testing apples, taste test applesauce. There are so many variations on the market, that students can make predictions and graph them. Have them taste a variety of applesauce and then graph the actual results. Compare and contrast the findings. 

Johnny Appleseed Compound Word Game

Johnny’s last name or nickname was “Appleseed,” a very famous compound word. This game’s main objective is to use a variety of separated words to form compound words that then get transferred to Johnny’s basket. This Johnny Appleseed Compound Word Resource can also be used as a center for students to play individually. Check it out!

Myth buster / Fun Facts:

Have students discuss what they believe they know about Johnny Appleseed. Teaching students about reliable resources, have them use books and the internet to find what they believe they knew about him to see if it’s true. Discuss the various myths they know about him and using those reliable resources, test to see if it’s fact or false. Students can present their myth-busting facts to the class. 

Myths/Fun Facts You Can Share with your Class: 

Johnny Appleseed didn’t actually wear a pan on his head, but carried a pan with him to cook. 

Johnny Appleseed wasn’t poor, but was actually very wealthy. He was not into material possessions. He did walk barefoot, and he only had one pair of pants. 

Johnny Appleseed was a vegetarian. 

He also didn’t just scatter seeds. He would spend time planting acres of apple tree orchards before moving on to another location. 

Conclusion

Teaching Johnny Appleseed this September is the “core” activity that will awaken fun, joy, and passion into your students’ learning. They will “apple-aud” your efforts! We hope these activities were “ap-peel-ing” to you!

Okay, we’re done with the apple puns for now. 🙂 

Author of Blog

5 Fall Activities for the Upper Elementary & Middle School Classrooms

The crunchy, colorful leaves, the cozy cardigans, the slight nip in the air, the warm caramel apple cider…all these elements make us so happy. We are team fall all the way! Here are 5 fall activities for the upper elementary & middle school classrooms.

The span between September to October is our favorite season for teaching. There are boundless opportunities to incorporate all aspects of autumn into the classroom. 

Writing

The beautiful fall weather in all its splendor makes for a spectacular backdrop for descriptive writing. Students can take a fall stroll and complete a scavenger hunt looking for specific autumn elements. They can observe the fall landscape and weather first-hand and use their findings to write the perfect descriptive essay. We have a blog post detailing how to complete a fall descriptive writing unit in your classroom. Check it out here:

In addition, here is another perfect fall fun writing activity that incorporates using that spooky holiday of Halloween. Students can write stories with spooky elements or their own version of a scary story. I have assigned basic spooky stories to elementary students and high schoolers. Both the young and old students love it. The best part is to play a spooky ambiance video on the projector while sharing those stories. It makes writing come alive!

Click here for more.

Scary Story Halloween Book Writing Activity

A favorite spooky writing unit I have used for elementary to middle school is our Scary Story Halloween Book Writing Activity. In the Scary Story Halloween Book pack, your students will choose a spooky writing prompt, utilize protagonist and antagonist character analysis sheets, a spooky setting map, and a story plot map, all essential prewriting tools for any young writer. My favorite part is the haunted house writing papers students can use to publish their work. Check it out here!

Procedural Writing Prompts

Fall also paves the way for various procedural writing prompts. After teaching students how to write a procedural piece, there are a variety of how-to topics they can tackle. Here are some ideas:

  1. How to Rake the Leaves
  2. How to Carve a Pumpkin
  3. How to Choose a Halloween Costume
  4. How to Bob for Apples
  5. How to Make S’mores

We love s’mores so much that my mother, Tami Parker, wrote a children’s book on how to microwave them! This book is just perfect to teach students how to write a procedural piece. 

In addition, here is a Procedural Writing unit written specifically for the picture book above. 

A priceless way to incorporate fall into the classroom is using ever-popular pumpkins. 

Pumpkin Math Day

When teaching elementary, we had a pumpkin math day in which we would learn all about estimating. We would make predictions as to how many seeds were in a pumpkin. Each group received a pumpkin and with some help from me, we would carve them and scoop out all the seeds. Next, we’d group them into 5’s and practice our 5’s multiplication tables by counting. We’d compare our estimates to our actual totals. Students would find the differences in the comparisons. We’d regroup the seeds into 2’s and 10’s and practice counting that way. Using the seeds, we would also graph our findings across the classroom into a cute pumpkin pictograph and bar graph.

Decorate a Pumpkin like a Book Character

Another simple but pleasant pumpkin activity is to have students decorate a pumpkin like a book character from an independent novel they’ve been reading or they can decorate their pumpkin as a nonfiction character or scary animal. These always turn out so interesting. 

Grab your Alligators and Crocodile book today!

Students can explore symbolism by decorating a pumpkin template on a piece of paper. Ask your students to decorate the pumpkin symbolically based on a character they are currently reading. Students can even apply symbolism to decorate a paper pumpkin to describe themselves.

3. Books!

There are countless wonderful picture books to relish in the fall season. Here are our favorites:

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak 

Pak’s series of books celebrate saying goodbye to one season while welcoming another. His illustrations are the cherry on top of the peaceful and perfectly described fall season.

Fall Leaves by Loretta Holland

This picture book is best described as a beautiful poem that sticks with you. This book portrays how fall is the lead way into winter, while appreciating autumn in its splendor.

Where’s My Mummy? by Carolyn Crimi

This cute picture book is best for kindergarten-4th grade with its friendly creatures and premise of a kid mummy wanting to play with his mummy. We have a full unit and adorable craftivity with this book. 

Here is a FREE onomatopoeia game perfect for grades 2nd-4th for Where’s My Mummy?

The Dark by Lemony Snicket

This picture book has been a favorite among my middle schoolers. It does a beautiful job teaching personification, foreshadowing, and imagery. Utilize this book to help teach writing as well as reading elements. 

Some awesome spooky short stories for middle schoolers specifically are: 

  1. The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs
  2. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
  3. The Californian’s Tale by Mark Twain
  4. The Most Dangerous Game by Richard Connell 
  5. The Tell-Tell Heart by Edgar Allan Poe

4. Fall & Spooky Art

Autumn and art go together like pumpkin spice and coffee. I love to incorporate fall arts and crafts into writing and reading units. Here are some ideas I have used in the past:

Students complete a watercolor painting of fall and write an accompanying poem

They can also complete a watercolor painting to illustrate a fall descriptive essay or to illustrate a fall simile or metaphor.

Furthermore, students can make a leaf collage and complete a personification writing piece in which they give names, personalities, and conflicts to their leaf personas.

Halloween Writing Craftivity – Students design a monster inspired by paint chips and then write all about their creature. 

Snowmen at Halloween Writing Craftivity – After reading Snowmen at Halloween by Carolyn Buehner, students design their own spooky snowman craft and write an accompanying story. 

5. Fall Figurative Language

There are countless opportunities to pair fall and figurative language together. Here are some simple ideas! 

a. Challenge students to write and illustrate fall idioms

b. Challenge students to write and illustrate fall/Halloween similes and metaphors

c. Students create pumpkin “pun-tastic” alliteration examples. 

d. Explore onomatopoeia using spooky sounds! Check out our FREEBIE here:  

Conclusion

Fall makes teaching so fun, and it sets the stage for many lively learning opportunities. From exciting writing units to beautifully-written picture books, fall can awaken a love of learning in your students. We hope you’re able to use some of these ideas in your classroom in the next two months. Your lessons will be “un-be-leaf-able!” 

Author of Blog