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Fall Into Autumn With Johnny Appleseed

By Shari Carter on September 20, 2015
  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

Who Was Johnny Appleseed? 

Before doing any unit of study with my students, I like to dive into my research. When I am more confident and informed about the content, it almost always translates to more success in my teaching and ultimately to student learning. Even though I have taught my students about Johnny Appleseed for many years, I always get excited when I learn something new about him. Doing a little research keeps me informed and ready to share my knowledge with the kids. Here is a quick story of Johnny to start you off.

I always love beginning an art lesson with a good book that ties into the theme of what we are doing. It engages the children and serves as an anticipatory set for the lesson that is about to come. The only thing better than a good book is — two! Johnny Appleseed by Jodie Shepherd and beautifully illustrated by Masumi Furukawa tells how Johnny bloomed from a young boy who loved the outdoors into the legendary man who spread apple trees all across the United States. Showing small acts of generosity and the love of nature are positive characteristics to nurture and this book is sure to plant the (Apple)seed in every reader.

Steven Kellogg is one of my favorite authors and his retelling of the Johnny Appleseed story would be a perfect book to read prior to doing the Johnny Appleseed craftivity with your class.



Johnny Appleseed Craftivity

Materials you will need; students working on the background.

If you read my "Back to School with Charlie the Ranch Dog" post, then you already know that I love doing guided drawings with my students. Guided drawing can be done with almost any theme. Once the kids are excited about drawing, it is really easy to get them to write about what they have just created. This time, I had the kids make an apple tree in the background prior to our guided drawing lesson. (You will probably want to take a couple of days to do this with your kids.) Here are the directions for making your very own Johnny Appleseed craftivity:

First Make the Tree

Make an apple tree image that includes apples, sun, and grass on a sheet of 9½" x 12" blue construction paper. You can use tissue paper for the apples, have your kids color them in with markers, or if you are feeling brave, you can have them finger-paint their fruit.

This is what the background will look like when kids are done.

Then Comes Johnny

When the kids are done making their trees (or quite possibly, the next day), give them a piece of white construction paper on which they can begin drawing Johnny.

My kids LOVE to draw!

Use these steps with your students to do the guided drawing and remind them to use a pencil and draw lightly.

  • Draw a half circle at the bottom of the paper; this will be the shirt

  • Have the kids draw buttons and suspenders to add detail and texture

  • Draw the neck and bowl-shaped head

  • Add eyes, nose, a mouth, and hair

  • Draw a pot turned upside down for the hat

  • Have the students color their picture

Put Them Together

After coloring, have the children cut out Johnny and glue him onto their apple tree background.

I hope you like them as much as I do — I think they are adorable!

The finished art project...how cute is that?!?!


Enhance Your Lessons

Let’s Find Out! Is an early-childhood nonfiction magazine that I love using in my classroom. I can’t wait to use the apple-themed issue next week. If you haven’t seen this yet, take a moment to check it out! My kids and I LOVE it!





Scholastic Printables for Johnny Appleseed and Apples


Hats Off to Johnny Appleseed!

I couldn’t resist making these little hats with my students. I don’t know what it is about them, but donning a related themed hat always seems to get my kids super excited to learn! These are very easy to make and you know how adorable your kids will look wearing them when you walk them out at the end of the day!

Apple Fun!

Apple Tasting

It’s always fun to find out what kind of apples the children like best. You can buy apples, or ask each child to bring one in to give them an opportunity to taste different varieties. After tasting, create a graph showing which apples the students liked best. This is a fantastic way to incorporate data and measurement concepts into your lesson.  

Apple Anchor Charts

Now that the kids have had an opportunity to sample lots of apples, you can use anchor charts to “anchor” their thinking and discoveries. Anchor charts reinforce literacy in the classroom. My children love sharing what they know (schema) and what they have learned as we build these charts together. When we are done, we use our anchor charts for shared reading. I just love it when my students use them as mentor texts when they are looking for a word they need to spell. Here are a couple of anchor charts you could use with your class:

Description words and a fun labeling lesson with the parts of an apple.

Click on the apple picture for a sweet story about a little house with no doors or no windows and a star inside. When you get to the part about the star, take out your apple and cut it in half for all the kids to see the star. When done, you could even do some fun apple painting with your kids!


Yummy Apples Treat

Here’s an easy recipe for slow cooker applesauce you can make in your classroom. I bring in my slow cooker and apple slicer every year and make this healthy treat with my kiddos. It is easy to make, has very few ingredients, and the kids love helping peel and slice the apples with my apple peeler/corer/slicer (Best kitchen tool EVER!). Your classroom will smell heavenly as the apples cook throughout the day and if you’re not ready for fall yet, I promise you, this will do the trick! Hint: Add the optional Red Hots for more cinnamon flavor.

Click on the image for the recipe.

If you are still looking for more fun activities to use on Johnny Appleseed Day, please check out fellow blogger Brian Smith's "Apple Activities for Your Classroom."

Thanks so much for joining me this week! If you enjoy my ways to celebrate Johnny, please take a moment to share with your friends and family, give it a Facebook like, tweet it, or pin it on Pinterest. Your support is so very much appreciated.

Have a great week and I will see you next time!


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