Mystery Birthday: Who traveled the United States with a bag of seeds? (Hint: apple-related play ideas below!)

Johnny Appleseed! He was born (148 years ago today) as John Chapman, but this produce pioneer earned his nickname many times over. He became famous for planting apple seeds, which he gathered from cider mills and planted during his travels. He tended his orchards on return trips, and happily shared with everyone he met.

Celebrate Johnny Appleseed’s birthday with some of the themed play ideas below . . . or just bite into an apple and give our friend a shout out: “Thanks for the snacks, Johnny Appleseed!

Paint an Orchard: Use poster paint and a round sponge to make a unique apple sponge-painting. Or cut a real apple in half for a cool stamping effect!

Have an Adventure: Head outdoors and pretend to be Johnny Appleseed traveling West! You can bring along your own bag (Johnny’s was a leather pouch) and fill it with stones, leaves or other pretend “apple seeds” to scatter as you go. (Dress-up tip: Some people think Johnny Appleseed wore a cooking pot on his head!)

Harvest Your Apples: Cut red and green circles out of construction paper and hide them around the playroom or all over the house. Then let the kids take turns gathering as many apples as they can in one minute. Add to the fun by writing a points value or secret message on each apple!

Plant a Real Seed: Wrap a seed in a damp paper towel and place it in the fridge. Check it every day and keep it moist. When the seed sprouts (about a week), you can plant it outside!

“Thank you, Johnny Appleseed!”