The True Tale Of Appleseed John Study Guide

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Prepared by Cathy Kaemmerlen

SS1H2 a; QCC 18: citizenship

Playwright Cathy Kaemmerlen is a professional storyteller, actress, writer, and creator of shows ever since she can remember.  For the past thirty years she has written, toured, performed, and researched over 40 shows for over 5,000 audiences of all ages.  Her focus over the past ten years has been on historical one-person shows.  The True Tall Tale of Appleseed John is her second show written for another performer. She tours through Tattlingtales Productions, TeachingMuseums of Fulton County, G.E.T. Educational Division, and the Georgia and SC Touring Arts Rosters as an independent contractor.  She is the author of four books and numerous plays.

Andrew Crigler is a poet, teaching artist, director, and actor from Atlanta.  He received his BA in Theatre and Performance studies from Kennesaw State University with a minor in dance.  He works as a freelance theatre professional and has performed with the Alliance Theatre, Theatrical Outfit, Serenbe Playhouse, Collective Project Inc, and Telltale Theatre.  He has taught theatre classes at the Alliance, GA Ensemble Theatre, GA Shakespeare, Fabrocation Theatre Co, Forefront Arts, and Jitterbug Performing Arts.

Learn the truth about John Chapman, born in 1774 in Leominster, MA, and the myths behind the legendary Johnny Appleseed, our nation’s greatest nurseryman and apple planter.  Through songs, poems, stories, this 45 minute romp contains historical information, legends, information and folklore about apples, and lots of fun and audience participation as Johnny Appleseed comes to life.  After all, an apple a day keeps the doctor away.



  • To learn about John Chapman and American frontier life in the post Revolutionary War days.
  • To learn how John Chapman turned into the legendary Johnny Appleseed.
  • To learn the difference between the truth and a tall tale.
  • To hear lots of stories about the mythical Johnny Appleseed.
  • To learn about the many values of apples.

Today we are going to see a show about John Chapman, who became the legendary Johnny Appleseed.  Some say he was America’s first folk hero.  His mission was to spread apples through the new frontier so that settlers moving west into Ohio and Indiana would have apple trees waiting for them.  You’ve heard the expression, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  We are going to learn just how valuable apples were to the American settlers and how they continue to be valuable to us today.

This show has lots of audience participation.  Remember your good audience manners and simply raise your hand only when Johnny asks for volunteers. Laugh and sing at appropriate times and enjoy the show.  If there’s time, Johnny will answer your questions after the show.


  • Discuss the parts of the show you think were true, and those that are a myth or legend.   Examples:  Can Johnny endure the cold like a penguin? Does Johnny Appleseed have a green thumb?
  • Discuss why John Chapman is so important in American history.
  • Talk about planting apples from seeds.
  • Talk about why you think apples are so important.
  • Find apple expressions and phrases and make a poster collage.
  • Read more about Johnny Appleseed.  Find books about him in your media center. 


Rambunctious: wild and untamed

Myth: a story whose origin is forgotten used to explain some natural phenomenon: a person or thing from the imagination

Massaugua:  a black rattlesnake, small and venomous found in the northeastern part of theUnited States

Floe: floating ice found on a body of water

Exaggeration: an overstatement; an enlargement beyond the truth

Tall tale: a story with unbelievable elements told as if it were true

Trekker: one who travels on a journey

Apple nursery: a place where trees are grown for transplanting or for grafting

Fermentation: a chemical change with bubbling as produced by yeast causing a transformation

Scythe: an instrument for mowing grass composed of a long, curing blade with a sharp edge.



Johnny Appleseed:  the man, the myth, the American Story by Howard Means, Simon and Schuster, 2011

Johnny Appleseed:  Man and Myth by Robert Price, 1954

Harper’s New Monthly MagazineJohnny Appleseed-A Pioneer Hero, Volume 43, Issue 258, November 1871

Johnny Appleseed:  Romance of the Sower by Eleanor Atkinson, 1915

Johnny Appleseed by Steven Kellogg

The True Tale of Johnny Appleseed by Margaret Hodges

Johnny Appleseed by Will Moses

The Real Johnny Appleseed by Laurie Lawlor

Johnny Appleseed:  All Aboard Reading by Patricia Demuth, Grosset and Dunlap, c 1996

Folks Call Me Appleseed John by Andrew Glass

John Chapman:  Historical American Bios by Karen Clemens Warrick

On the web:  National Apple Week Association, Inc.

U.S. Apple Association

Johnny Appleseed by Jane Yolen





Oh the Lord’s been good to me

And so I thank the Lord

Fro giving me his blessings three:

Love and faith and an apple tree.

The Lord’s been good to me.


Oh every seed I sow

Will grow into a tree

And someday there’ll be apples there

For everyone in the world to share

The Lord’s been good to me.


I wake up every day

As happy as can be

With hard work and with good care

My apple trees will still be there.

The Lord’s been good to me.



The Earth is our mother and the fullness thereof

Her woods, her earth, as well as stars above.

With each spring we will find our new birth

And in peace all together, we will love our good earth.


When true simplicity is gained

To bow and to bend, we shan’t be ashamed.

To turn, turn, will be our delight

Till by turning, turning, we come round right.

–Shaker traditional song



Yep, all God’s creatures got a place in the choir

Some sing low and some sing higher

Some sing out loud, great balls of fire.

And some just clap their hands, or paws,

Or anything they got now.


It’s a simple song, a living song

By the ox or the fox or the grizzly bear,

The grumpy alligator and the hawk above

The buzzing little skeeter and the turtle dove.


Singing in the nighttime, singing in the day,

Little duck quacks and he’s on his way.

Snakes might hiss, owls go whoo!

And the horse, he just neighs.



Eat an apple.

Save the core.

Plant the seeds.

And grow some more.



Eats only apples.  Loves apple pie.  Lives underneath the apple blossom sky.

Learns to write, learns to read.  First word he speaks is Appleseed.

Knows from a boy how to make apples grow.  Fast in the summer.  In the winter real slow.

Tin pot hat, coffee sack shirt.  Loves to plant seeds in the Ohio dirt.

Walks barefoot through the snow.  Likes to tell stories when he’s visiting a home.

Planting trees is quite an art.  He plants apples with his heart.


  • Clear space 15×15.
  • Center aisle or peripheral aisle.
  • Laptop, projector, screen for power point at opening.