Math at Home Math Access for Teachers
and Home Child Care Providers

CME Group Community Foundation



Apple Counting Fun
Children will count the correct number of apples to match the numeral on the tree trunk.
Content Area Standard Target
  • Numbers and Operations
  • Understand numbers, ways of representing numbers, relationships among numbers, and number systems
  • Count to match numerals
  • Numeral recognition
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Obtain materials Obtain the Materials
  • Blank paper [Note: Prepare paper so that there are two tree trunks hand drawn on one side of the paper with each tree trunk having a numeral from 0 through 9 written on the trunk. Prepare 5 sheets of paper so that all numerals have a tree trunk. Make copies as needed so that each child will have a group of 5 sheets to use.]
  • Red pom-pons (or other item to paste to represent apples)
  • Glue and q-tips (or other item to spread the glue)
  • Flashcards for numerals 0-9 (or make your own cards with index cards and write the numerals on them)
  • Book: Five Apples Up on Top by Dr. Seuss

Note: Small parts create a choking hazard for children. Make sure that all materials you choose to use for an activity or lesson with children meet safety requirements. Small parts are not appropriate for children who are 5 years of age or younger.

Introduce the activity Introduce the Activity
  1. Read: Five Apples Up on Top by Dr. Seuss.
  2. Review the numerals 0-9 using the flashcards and asking children to take turns choosing a card and identifying the numeral on the card. Ask child to count out red pom-pons to represent the numeral on the card.
  3. Show children one sheet of paper with tree trunks and numerals on it.
  4. Explain that these tree trunks are for apple trees and the trees are missing their apples.
  5. Explain to children the red pom-pons (or other item you are choosing to use for apples) are going to be the apples.
  6. Ask children to identify the numeral on the first tree trunk and then choose a child to come and count the correct number of apples for the tree.
  7. Guide children to use one-to-one correspondence as they count out loud.
  8. Say: "You are going to get your own set of trees that you can color and then decorate with the correct number of apples that represents the numeral on the tree trunk." 
Engage the children Engage the Children
  1. Provide each child with a set of apple tree pages and a container of red pom-pons.
  2. Ask children to use the glue to place the correct number of "apples" on each tree to represent the numeral written on the trunk. Have them count outloud as they glue each apple to the tree. Color their trees.
  3. Extend children's vocabulary as you can 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?
  4. Add an extension:
    • Provide children with different colored pompoms (to represent red, green, and yellow apples) and write numerals for each color of apple that will require students to select different amounts for different colors (for example, 3 red apples, 4 yellow apples, and 6 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?
Encourage vocabulary Encourage Vocabulary
  • More – A value that is higher or greater in number (e.g., "7 apples is more than 5 apples.")
  • Fewer/Less – A value that is smaller in number (e.g., "The tree with 8 apples has fewer apples than the tree with 9 apples.")
  • Numeral – The symbol used to represent a number or "how many" (e.g., "The numeral '2' represents the number of eyes I have.")

Glossary of MATH vocabulary

Make adaptations Make Adaptations

Supporting Children at Different Levels

Toddlers   Pre-K

Toddlers may:

  • Not have one-to-one corrspondence.
  • Not be able to count to or beyond 5.
  • Not yet recognize numerals.


Vertical line

Preschoolers may:

  • Want to do the activity with a friend.
  • Want to write the numerals.
  • Decorate their trees further.
  • Want to call the numerals numbers.
  • Be able to compare the two trees on one paper using the "greater than" and "less than" symbols.


Home child care providers may:

  • Provide assistance when children are counting to emphasize counting one by one with the "apples".
  • Only provide toddlers with the numerals they recognize or can count.
  • Tell toddler how many apples to place on a tree rather than requiring them to recognize the numeral on the trunk.

Home child care providers may:

  • Have children draw their own tree and choose their own numeral and then ask a friend to add the apples.
  • Provide additional crayons and material to further decorate their apple tree picture.
  • Reinforce vocabulary through their own use of the word numeral.


Books Books
  • 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)
  • Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington (London: Puffin Books, 2001)
Music and movement Music and Movement


Outdoor connections Outdoor Connections
  • Play an adapted version of “Hot Potato” where the children pass an apple around to the music. The child that is holding the apple when the music stops has to do a special trick like hop on one foot a specific number of times as indicated by the child care provider.
  • Collect leaves. Children can glue them onto their apple tree gluing the amount that matches the numeral and number of apples on their tree.


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