Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Johnny Appleseed Mini-Unit Study (includes printable)

Johnny Appleseed Mini Unit Study (free printable)

I wanted to share our Johnny Appleseed mini-unit, especially since John Chapman's birthday is September 26. We recently did an apple unit study.  Our "core" (pun unintended) was the book A is for Musk Ox, and we'll share more about it later - when the Blogging with the Alphabet series starts back up again in a few weeks.  (Hey - I'm going to need something that starts with the letter A!) 
This was the first time we talked about Johnny Appleseed during lessons, but apparently there was an episode of the cartoon Johnny Test featuring "Johnny Applesauce."  I'm actually rather impressed how much Jude knew about Johnny Appleseed.  Not exactly accurate, but for a cartoon lesson, not bad.   We started our (slightly more accurate) lesson with a story about Johnny Appleseed.
Photo: Amazon.com
We learned about how John Chapman grew up very, very, poor, and once was given apple seeds from a cider press.  Being poor, he knew that you never said "No, thank you!" to anything for free -- you took it and figured out how to use it.  He then started orchards and gave out tree sprouts to everyone he met.  Most people didn't know his real name.  They knew the man who gave out apple trees as "Johnny Appleseed."

We also watched a short film on Johnny Appleseed.

 Legend holds that Johnny wore a saucepan for a hat.  Why wear a hat and carry a pot when you could just wear the pan as your hat?  We made our own "saucepan" hat, like Johnny's.

Here's how we made it.

Materials needed:

Kraft paper
Gray paint (or black & white paint to mix) & paint brushes
optional:  hairdryer, Scotch tape
Johnny Appleseed song printable (see below)

Cut two strips of Kraft paper; one 8" wide strip (the pot) and one 4" wide (the handle)

(We needed a few books to help hold the ends flat.)

Wrap the wider paper around the child's head to measure how big it needs to be for the pot.  Allow about 1/2 to overlap ends.  Mark and cut.   (Yes, I know this is wider than 8" - I purposely cut it wide and then measured the pot once we finished.  Jude has a big head!) 

Cut the smaller strip to be about 12" long, and fold about 1/2" over from one end. (This gives you a tab to attach to the pot, but also a "paint free zone" for kiddos with sensory "I don't want to get my hands dirty" issues.  

Next, paint your saucepan parts gray.  You can either use ready-made gray paint, or have a quick lesson on color mixing - black + white = grey!

When you're done painting, allow to dry.

If you are antsy and want to just make the hat now, a hairdryer set on low/warm speeds things along nicely.  Make sure to keep it moving, and aim down (not sideways) so your paper doesn't blow away.

Once the paint is dry, assemble your hat.

Re-wrap the wide strip around the child's head, and secure with glue or tape.

Place the handle painted side down.  Fold the handle in half, so it is about 6" long and the unpainted side is on the inside.  Glue the ends together, and then refold the tab you made earlier.  Glue or tape the handle to the pot.

If you like, you can stop here.  Or, you can add the words to Johnny's song to the front of your hat.

(Click here to download a printable PDF version.)

I really don't know the full history of the song, other than it has long been sung as one of many Grace Before Meals hymns at Girl Scout Camp. I grew up singing it, first at Camporees and then as a counselor.  After watching this Disney Melodies video, I tend to think this is the its actual origin and it became popular with campers and passed down through generations.  Generally, I am not a superstitious sort, but I can almost guarantee you that if this is sung, it will rain within a few hours.  It doesn't matter what time of year, it will pour.  Usually campers will practically shout "RAIN!" when they get to "....the sun and the RAIN and the appleseed..." just for fun, but somehow, the louder they yell, the harder it will pour.  For the record, we sang this song very quietly, yet on the day we made these, bright sunshine quickly disappeared behind thick clouds that drizzled a bit after I taught this to Jude.  I'm not afraid of a little rain - after all, it makes apple trees grow - but it is part of the song's Scouting history (and apparently it doesn't rain only at camp!).

For children who are better at straight-line cutting, cut along the black frame lines.  If you have a student who is adept at curves, try cutting out the apple and leaf itself.

Jude struggles with coordinating cutting and holding the paper.  I thought it was pretty clever how he opted to use his toes to help support things. 

Glue the apple to the front of the hat.

Happy Birthday, Johnny Applessed! Thanks for planting apples everywhere!

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  1. How fun!!! And I love projects that don't immediately seem to make me need to hide under my bed and cry because I'm not a crafty person. This looks great!

  2. You are definitely a fun homeschooling mama!! I love the pics of your kiddos enjoying the "fruits" of your crafting labor! ;)

  3. What a cute hat! I love the saying that you put on the hat. I have pinned this post.

  4. Meg @ Adventures with JudeSeptember 30, 2013 at 10:17 AM

    Thanks for sharing!

  5. Cute! I never knew that song until I heard it on the Johnny Appleseed video a few years ago. I love your history behind the song. Pinning this hat to make with my boys.

  6. How adorable! Featured you on Mom's Library!


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