Review the life of Johnny Appleseed. Talk about how he first began to plant apple trees, what his jobs were, and how he showed compassion to people and animals. Discuss his love for the planet and why he felt that planting apples was a good idea. These exercises will get your students thinking about the many aspects of Johnny Appleseed’s life.
Ask students if they know what a biography is. Teach that a biography is a true story of someone’s life that is written by someone else. You can also teach them about an autobiography at the same time. This is a true story of someone’s life told by the person himself. Read the children a short biography of anyone but John Chapman, so they get an idea of a biography.
Give instructions about the finished biography of Johnny Appleseed. For example, will the biography be one or two pages long, or 200-300 words? How many books should the children use as resources? How much time should be dedicated to writing the biography? Should pictures be included?
If you are teaching a Kindergarten class about a biography, then have them make a biography from drawings. They could draw John Chapman as a baby, growing up, and working on an orchard farm. Other pages could show him planting seeds across Ohio or helping to heal an injured horse. Students are never too young to learn how to write a biography, even if it’s accomplished through drawings. The important thing is that they understand how to tell a true story about someone else.
Grades should reflect how much time and effort the student put into the biography. Points should be taken away for incorrect facts, since a biography is a true story and must only contain facts. Grammar and spelling should be corrected based on the concepts taught. If you didn’t teach a student conjunctions and they used them incorrectly, then correct it, but don’t take points off for it. Finally, award extra points for good handwriting.