Johnny Appleseed Day – September 26th

Possible Classroom Concepts: Social Studies – Seasons (Fall), Johnny Appleseed

Math – Geometry (3D Shapes), Number Sets, Graphing, Addition and Subtraction Facts

Possible Art Concepts: Art History – Paul Cezanne

Still Life, Forms, Ways to Create Interest (Arrangement)

I remember from my teaching days that classroom teachers often taught apple units in the fall. They made all things apple. Apples were printed and the seeds were counted. Older students also learned the legend of Johnny Appleseed. Seeing as how Johnny Appleseed Day is approaching, I thought it would be a good time to introduce the artist who made the apple important to the art world, Paul Cezanne.

When everyday objects, such as apples, are arranged and then drawn, sculpted or painted, this art work is called a still life. At the time Cezanne painted them, still lifes ( Yes, no typo here, it’s lifes not lives.) were the wall flowers of the art world . History paintings and portraits were most popular. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC has a wonderful interactive post about Cezanne’s apples. You can find it here:

The Cezanne’s Apples post has a great bio and talks about his use of 3D shapes (what we call forms in the art world). This makes his still life paintings a good math correlation. Students can search for 3D shapes in the paintings. These are good for elementary students of all ages.

The post also contains an excellent story which is good for primary students. It is an all encompassing look at the artist and his work with a fictional account of how he created his “Apples with Primroses” painting. So, in this story, Cezanne eats an apple from the still life nearly every day. Upon completion, all the apples are gone. At the very least, how many days did it take to complete the apples and primrose painting? Also, Cezanne arranges the fruits in groups (or sets) of one to five apples. How many sets of each number are there? The class could graph this information. How about  asking students to pick two sets and add or subtract their numbers. How many combinations can they make?

Cezanne’s “Still Life with Apples and Peaches” is discussed in the following video suitable for intermediate students:ézanne

A nice Cezanne intermediate art lesson can be found here:

A two session Kindergarten art lesson can be found here:


If students create their own still lifes, what kind of math problems can they make from their artwork?


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