Johnny Appleseed, an American Folk Hero

Johnny Appleseed, an American Folk Hero

by Lynn O 'Malley

Teach your ELLs about American Folktales through a unit on Johnny Appleseed. This is a perfect accompaniment to a thematic unit on Apples or on other Fall topics.

Lesson Topic

American Folktales

Grade/Proficiency Level

Grade 2 -6; Advanced Beginning to Intermediate ESL

Content Objectives

Language Learning Objectives



nursery man, orchard, fertile land, tin pot, settlement

Instructional Sequence

1. Elements of folktales will be reviewed together.

2. Preview vocabulary from the folktale. List and discuss the words and meanings on chart paper. (nursery man, orchard, fertile land, tin pot, settlement, etc.)

3. Johnny Appleseed will be read and discussed together.

4. In pairs, the students will discuss the difference between the real Johnny Appleseed’s life and how his life would be if he lived today. (What would have to be different? What might stay the same?) Each pair will make a list in their reader’s response journals. Students will use examples from the book and factors of life today to support the information on their list.

5. On the board, hang a large Venn diagram. Using information from the students’ discussions, guide the class in comparing and contrasting the real Johnny Appleseed with Johnny Appleseed today.

6. Display Venn diagram for the class.

TESOL Goals and Standards

ELP Standards:

Standard 1: English language learners communicate in English for social and Instructional purposes within the school setting.

Standard 2: English language learners communicate information, ideas, and concepts necessary for academic success in the content area of Language Arts.

ELA Standards:

Standard 1 Reading: E1a, E1b

Standard 3 Listening, Speaking: E3a, E3b, E3c

Standard 5 Literature: E5a, E5b

Related Links

A is for Apple
Combine science, language arts, and math with an apple theme for Fall. This is an excellent unit for mixed level ESL classes and can be taught to students of a wide variety of ages and abilities.

Lupine Lady and Johnny Appleseed: A Comparison
What do Johnny Appleseed and Miss Rumphius have in common? Compare the story of the Lupine Lady with a favorite American folk tale.

About the Author

Lynn O'Malley is a 3rd grade teacher at Edgewood Highland Elementary School in Cranston, Rhode Island. She is a graduate student in the TESL program at Rhode Island College.