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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 🙂