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September 1, 2014 Johnny Appleseed By Brian Smith
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    Last year I wrote a post about the different apple activities that I do with my class. One of the topics that I didn’t discuss was Johnny Appleseed. I love including him in my apple lesson! Plus, introducing biographies in your classroom is a great way to bring nonfiction text into your lessons. Here are some fun ways to explore Johnny with students of different grade levels:


    Factoids and Activities for Johnny Appleseed

    These fun facts about Johnny Appleseed are from, although there certainly are other versions out there.

    Johnny Appleseed’s real name was John Chapman.

    • Younger grades can talk about nicknames.

    • Older grades can extend the conversation to abbreviations.

    He was born on September 26, 1774.

    • Younger grades can count how many days until his birthday.

    • Older grades can figure out how old he would be if he were still alive.

    He was born in Leominster, Massachusetts.

    • Younger grades can find Leominster on a map in relation to where you live.

    • Older grades can determine the distance between where you are and his birthplace.

    He had 11 brothers and sisters — his older sister Elizabeth, and 10 younger half-brothers and half-sisters.

    • All grades (because that is a lot of kids no matter how old you are!) can talk about what a normal day may have looked like in the Chapman household.

    He knew where he was planting the apple seeds and didn’t plant them randomly like the legend says.

    • Younger grades can talk about the different between fiction and nonfiction.

    • Older grades can expand on how legends are made and stories are embellished. Students could turn a family into a folk legend by writing or story or song.

    Johnny Appleseed died when he was 70 years old.

    • Younger grades can skip count to 70.

    • Older grades can figure out the year that he passed away using his the day and year he was born.


    A Book about Johnny Appleseed

    Refrain from bookMy favorite Johnny Appleseed book was written by Jodie Shepherd and illustrated by Masumi Furukawa. It's called Johnny Appleseed, which makes it easy enough to remember. One of the reasons that I love this telling of Johnny's story is because of the refrain that the author included in the text. Anytime that I can sing to my class, they remember the information much better. The third line of the refrain changes as the story progresses, so to include student interaction, I sing the first line:

    "And the sun shone.”

    Then I point to the class to help me sing the second line:

    “And the rain fell.”

    I sing the third line (which changes throughout the story), and then have the class join me for the last line:

    “And all was well.”


    More Johnny Appleseed Ideas

    Johnny Appleseed Clipart

    My favorite way to incorporate Johnny Appleseed into my apple unit is to throw a birthday party! Birthdays are a big deal to younger students and by celebrating Johnny’s special day, you can bring in all of your favorite apple activities. (If you don’t have your own favorite apple activities, check out last year’s apple blog.)

    Another idea is to play Where’s Johnny? in a center or make copies and send home for families to play together. Directions to the game follow the game pieces. You can differentiate the game to cover any topic or skill you are working on. You will want to copy the Where’s Johnny? game on card stock.

    Finally, Scholastic's awesome new Month-by-Month for September includes this great page for teaching about apples.

    Let’s connect on Pinterest and Twitter.

    I can’t wait to see you next week.


    Clipart by Phillip Martin at 



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