APPLES There are no apples native to America. Apples date back to the prehistoric times. The first apples were small walnut size crabapples growing in Asia and Europe. It is America’s oldest cultivated fruit. Julius Caesar liked plants and ordered his soldiers to plant many apple trees. They were the “Stamp of Rome” and a symbol of Roman occupation.

Apples come from trees and are a fruit because it has seeds. Apple trees are hardy and without a lot of care, they grow. France grows the most apples and America is second. Apple trees grow in almost every state but Florida. They don’t grow in tropical climates or the Arctic. They like cool climates with plenty of sunshine and abundant rainfall. They can grow to be 25 feet tall and there are lots of them today that are over 100 years old. Apple trees require cross-pollination. They are the hardiest of all fruits. If flower buds are open, a frost will kill the flowers and you will have no fruit. The apple tree will drop the apples that it cannot support.

William Blackstone arrived in Boston in 1623 with bibles and a bag of apple seeds. Apples fed horses and cows too. As America grew, so did apple trees! Pioneers drank a lot of cider, liquid pressed from apples because water was often contaminated from washing.

John Chapman better know as Johnny Appleseed was a peaceful man born in Massachusetts in 1774, 150 years after William Blakestone arrived in Boston and he was responsible for planting many apple trees. He planted the apple seeds he collected from cider milk and hiked the Ohio River Valley and sold trees to settlers for 6 ½ cents each.

One of my favorite apples is the granny smith. There really was a Granny Smith. About 100 years ago Margaret Smith from New South Whales, Australia brought home some apples from Tasmania. She threw the rotten one out in her garden and seedlings grew and people starting calling the apples Granny Smiths apples!

Apples can be grown in the home garden with little care. There are many varieties and sizes and colors. The trees are host to a variety of songbirds. Apples have a good storing power and were often the only fruit in winter. Apples were dried in the summer sun and stored in cotton bags. There are many uses for apples in pies, cakes, bread, applesauce, and for juice or cider (which is fermented apple juice.) Apples contain vitamin C, A, and potassium. The old saying is “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples orchards are sprayed with pesticides heavily 7 or 8 times a season. It is best to eat apples that are organically grown. Our bodies store pesticides. They are not eliminated from our body and are a health risk.

A long time ago if a fellow tossed an apple to a girl, he was asking her to marry him. If she caught it she accepted. If you peeled an apple without breaking the peeling, twirled it around your head 3 times and threw it over your shoulder onto the floor it would form the initial of your future spouse. If you break the peal it was bad luck. Sometimes children would play “snap apple” by tying an apple in the doorway by its stem and someone would try to bite the swinging apple. Sometimes they would put an apple in a bucket of water and have you bob for the apple. People even dried apples and made apple dolls!

Apple activities: A teacher might give each student an apple to eat and have them count the seeds in each after they finish. Do they have the same number of seeds? They could graft the results. They might compare different types of apples. Draw an apple tree. Make a felt board apple tree and turn it into a math lessons. If I pick 3 off the tree and you pick the other 7 then how many apples were there in all? If you gave me 4 how many would I have. Slice a couple of apples across, notice the star in the center that is made by the ovary and contains the seeds. Make apple prints on cards or wrapping paper for Christmas time. Tell stories and eat them! Talk about nutrition and about what happens to the apple when you eat it! Introduce the digestive system. Plant an apple tree! Sort laminated apples of different sizes/colors. Have students place different size apples in different baskets, make apple patterns or make sets of apples with matching numbers or letters for your students to match. Cut an apple in halves and fourths and use to teach fractions. Use the letters in the word apple to make other words such as, pal, lap, sap, ape, pea, sea, spa, slap, pals, apes, peas, apple, apples. Johnny Appleseed is remembered for his generosity to people and his respect for nature. Ask students to share ways they have shown generosity to others or respect to nature. Let students trace their hand on a sheet of paper and color it brown (the trunk of the tree and the fingers are branches.) Let them use green tempera paint and sponges to paint the leaves on the tree and use a Q-tip and red tempera paint to put the apples on the tree. Use apples and compare it to the layers of the earth. The middle core of the apple is the core of the earth. The outer core is the mantle, which is the part we eat. The peel is like the outer layer or crust. “How about them apples!”