Spark critical thinking by asking students to respond to tall tales and tell some of their own — as long as they are not related to homework.
About the Book
In Johnny Appleseed, a famous American born in Massachusetts in 1774, grows up to help settle the west. As a young man, Johnny began traveling west, planting apple seeds in Pennsylvania, Ohio, and northern Indiana. He continued planting his apple seeds, helping early pioneers who had no room to take seedling apple trees with them on their journey to settle the western part of our country.
- Learn about the contributions of Johnny Appleseed
- Explore the settling of the west
- Learn about life in the late 1700s and early 1800s
Ask students to share what they know or may have heard about Johnny Appleseed. If students are unfamiliar with him, ask what they can tell about him from his name. Explain that Johnny Appleseed was a man born more than two hundred years ago — a man who contributed to our country by planting apple trees for new settlers across the western part of America.
Have students imagine what it might be like to settle in a new land. Have them think about seeing nothing but wide open space before them, no homes, no gardens, no stores. Ask students:
- What might be the first thing you would do?
- Why would you do that first?
- How would you go about finding food?
- What would you do for shelter?
- What would you enjoy about this life? What would be difficult?
- Share pictures of early pioneers with the class. Point out the kinds of homemade tools and equipment people worked with to make a life for themselves in a new place. Encourage students to consider the games they might have made up and played if they lived during the time the west was being settled.
- Talk about Johnny Appleseed's trek across the country. Discuss the different kinds of wildlife and people he may have encountered. Ask students to identify the dangers Johnny might have been faced with and the beauty he may have witnessed.
- Emphasize the beauty of the environment as it must have existed 200 years ago, including the condition of the air, water, and the types of wildlife that could be seen. As you talk, stress the importance of preserving wildlife and caring for our environment.
- Talk about how apples grow. What other kinds of fruits grow on trees? Which fruits are your favorites? Why? What are your favorite fruit recipes? Invite students and their family members to prepare and share some favorite fruit recipes with the class.
- Visit an apple orchard with the class. Encourage students to notice the different varieties, tastes, and looks of the various kinds of apples. Discuss the many different ways we can enjoy apples (apple butter, apple pie, apple cake, etc.). Bring enough apples back to the classroom to make applesauce.
Recommended Books and Programs
Weston Woods Video Programs About Nature
- Johnny Appleseed by Reeve Lindbergh, ill. by Kathy Jakobsen
- Antarctic Antics by Judy Sierra, ill. by Jose Aruego and Ariane Dewey
- Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson, ill. by Jane Chapman
- Bear Wants More by Karma Wilson, ill. by Jane Chapman
- Brave Irene by William Steig
- Giving Thanks by Chief Jake Swamp, ill. by Erwin Printup Jr.
- In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming
- Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni
- Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
- Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, ill. by John Schoenherr
- Time of Wonder by Robert McCloskey
- Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert
Weston Woods Video Biographies
- Duke Ellington by Andrea Davis Pinkney, ill. by Brian Pinkney
- Ella Fitzgerald: The Tale of a Vocal Virtuosa by Andrea Davis Pinkney, ill. by Brian Pinkney
- Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
- George Washington's Mother by Jean Fritz, ill. by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan
- This Land is Your Land by Woody Guthrie, ill. by Kathy Jakobsen
This guide may be photocopied for free distribution without restriction. Copyright 2008 Weston Woods.