If you’re a teacher, chances are you’ve gotten your share of apple-themed gifts—and probably more than a few shiny red apples. In honor of National Eat a Red Apple Day, December 1, let’s explore the history of how the red apple became the iconic symbol for teachers everywhere.


Education for Apples

Early on in the U.S., teachers were housed, fed, and paid by the community in which they taught. Poor families who could not afford the teacher’s low wages would pay with produce. The early apples were bitter, sour, and smaller than the ones we’re used to.  But apples were popular because of their bartering value. They could be made into hard cider, considered safer to drink than water. Apples also could be eaten fresh, fried, stewed, and baked. They could be made into vinegar, brandy, preserves, and apple butter. They could be dried for the winter and eaten year-round.

Years later, after Prohibition, apples started to become marketed as an essential part of a healthy diet- hence the term, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Apples were still being given to teachers, but this time from their students.

The first day of school occurs near the beginning of September, coincidentally apple harvest time. Apples grow in every state in the continental U.S. They’re cheap and pretty, especially when they are buffed until they shine. That made apples the ideal first-day teacher gift. It was a way for students to show appreciation and get the year started on the right foot with a sweet, and healthy treat for their teacher.

Today, there are foundations and awards for educators, like the Golden Apple Foundation. Apples continue to decorate classrooms and hallways. Apple mugs, earrings, shirts, ties, notebooks, etc. line the aisles at grocery stores for teachers. The apple is and will continue to be a powerful symbol of knowledge and education because just like apples, teachers are an essential part of helping our children grow.


Celebrate Red Apple Day with your students!

Here are 5 apple-themed activities for Eat a Red Apple Day, or any day that you’d like to celebrate apples and sweeten the learning experience.

    • Conduct an apple taste test. Put out samples of three varieties of apples. Then have students describe them and rank them.
    • Read an apple-themed book.
    • Teach fractions, counting/sorting or measurement using apple-inspired math.
    • Make an apple-inspired art project.
    • Visit an apple orchard, learn how to plant an apple tree, and more in these engaging videos.

Do you have a favorite apple-themed activity? Please share in the comments.


This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.


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