Apple-Counting Fun

In this lesson, children will count the correct number of apples to match the numerals on the tree trunks.

Lesson for:

(See Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.)

Content Area:

Numbers and Operations

Learning Goals:

This lesson will help toddlers and preschoolers meet the following educational standards:

  • Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers and number systems

Learning Targets:

After this lesson, toddlers and preschoolers should be more proficient at:

  • Counting to match numerals
  • Numeral recognition

Apple-Counting Fun

Lesson plan for toddlers/preschoolers

Step 1: Gather materials.

  • Blank paper (Draw two tree trunks on one side of the paper and write a numeral from 0-9 on each tree trunk. Prepare five sheets of paper, so that all numerals from 0-9 are represented on a tree trunk. Make copies as needed, so that each child will have a five-sheet set of tree trunks decorated with numerals from 0-9.)
  • Red pompoms (or another item that can be pasted onto the sheets to represent apples)
  • Glue and Q-tips (or another tool to spread the glue)
  • Flashcards for numerals 0-9 (or make your own flashcards by writing the numerals on index cards)
  • Book: Five Apples Up on Top by Dr. Seuss

Note: Small parts pose a choking hazard and are not appropriate for children age five or under. Be sure to choose lesson materials that meet safety requirements.

Step 2: Introduce activity.

  1. Read the book: Five Apples Up on Top by Dr. Seuss.
  2. Review the numerals 0-9 using the flashcards and ask the children to take turns choosing a card and identifying the numeral on the card. Ask the children to count out red pompoms to represent the numeral on the card.
  3. Show children one sheet of paper with the tree trunks and numerals on it.
  4. Explain that these are apple tree trunks, but the trees are missing their apples.
  5. Tell the children that the red pompoms (or another item that you have chosen to represent the apples) are going to represent the apples.
  6. Ask the children to identify the numeral on the first tree trunk and then ask a child to come up and count out the correct number of apples for the tree.
  7. Guide the children in the use of one-to-one correspondence as they count out loud.
  8. Say: “You are going to get your own set of trees. Color your trees and then decorate them with the number of apples that matches the number on each apple tree trunk.”

Step 3: Engage children in lesson activities.

  1. Give each child a set of apple tree pages and a container of red pompoms.
  2. Ask the children to use the glue to place the correct number of “apples” on each tree to represent the numeral written on the trunk. Tell the children to count out loud as they glue each apple to the tree. Then tell the children to color their trees.
  3. Expand the children’s vocabulary by asking them to compare two trees with apples (or with numerals) and asking:
    • “Which tree has ‘more’ apples?”
    • “Which tree has ‘fewer’ apples?”
    • “If you added the apples on both trees together, how many apples would you have?”

Additional Extensions

  • Give the children pompoms in different colors to represent red, green and yellow apples. Assign numerals to each apple color that will require the children to select different quantities of pompoms for different apple colors (e.g., three pompoms for red apples, four pompoms for yellow apples and six pompoms for green apples). Then, for an extra challenge, ask:
    • “How many ‘more’ green than red apples?”
    • “How many ‘fewer’ red apples than yellow apples?”
    • “How many apples all together?”

Step 4: Vocabulary.

  • More: A value that is higher or greater in number (e.g.,”Seven apples is more than five apples.”)
  • Fewer/Less: A value that is smaller in number (e.g.,”The tree with eight apples has fewer apples than the tree with nine apples.”)
  • Numeral: The symbol used to represent a number or “how many” (e.g.,”The numeral 2 represents the number of eyes that I have.”)

Early Math Glossary

Step 5: Adapt lesson for toddlers or preschoolers.

Adapt Lesson for Toddlers
Toddlers may:
  • Not have one-to-one correspondence
  • Not be able to count to or beyond five
  • Not yet recognize numerals
Child care providers may:
  • Provide assistance when children are counting to emphasize counting one by one with the “apples”
  • Give toddlers numerals that they can recognize or count
  • Tell toddlers how many apples to place on a tree, rather than requiring them to recognize the numeral on the trunk
Adapt Lesson for Preschoolers
Preschoolers may:
  • Want to do the activity with a friend
  • Want to write the numerals
  • Want to add more decorations to their apple trees
  • Want to call the numerals “numbers”
  • Be able to compare two trees on a sheet of paper using the “greater than” and “less than” symbols
Child care providers may:
  • Ask the children to draw their own trees and choose their own numerals and then ask a friend to add the apples
  • Provide additional crayons and materials so that the children can add more decorations to their apple trees
  • Reinforce vocabulary through their own use of the word “numeral”

Suggested Books

  • Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington (London: Puffin Books, 2001)
  • Ten Apples Up On Top by Theo LeSieg (New York: Random House, 1961)
  • The Apple Pie that Papa Baked by Laura Thompson (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007)

Music and Movement

Way Up High in an Apple Tree by The Learning Station

Outdoor Connections

  • Play an adapted version of “Hot Potato” and ask the children to pass an apple around while the music is playing. Ask the child holding the apple when the music stops to perform a special trick, such as hopping on one foot for a specific number of times, as indicated by the child care provider.
  • Collect leaves and then ask the children to glue the leaves onto their apple trees, matching the number of leaves on each tree to the numeral on the tree’s trunk.

Web Resources

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