Looking for some fun apple counting activities? I’ve got you covered.
Apples is a popular preschool theme, especially in the fall. And what preschool teacher doesn’t love a themed counting activity? Apple Drop Counting teaches preschoolers about composing ten, as well as subitizing.
***Note: This post has recently been updated, and now includes a FREE printable!
I first introduced this fun one to one correspondence game last fall as part of my autumn themed preschool unit, but it is enjoyed so much that we often get it out when not learning about apples.
Probably because preschoolers love listening to the buttons scatter as they drop on the mat.
Apple Counting Activity – The Apple Drop Game
The general rules of this game are very simple and the idea can be used with any preschool theme. Apple Drop Counting is a great game that focuses on one to one correspondence skills in counting, but it can also be adapted to include concepts like more and less, composing and decomposing and even subitizing.
How to Play
Originally, cut and hot glued a tree out of felt, but making a class set of felt trees was going to be tedious, so I decided this fall to update this post with a printable you can download at the bottom of this post.
Here’s what you need to do. Provide a themed “mat”. It can be an apple tree to go along with an autumn themed unit, or it can be a fish or a car, etc. Endless possibilities.
Place this mat in a tray. (This is important because it will help contain the buttons as they fall.) Give your child a handful of buttons. (Red for apples, multi colored for fish scales, nude for people in a car, etc.) Invite your child to hold the handful of buttons a few inches above the mat and then drop them.
The buttons will scatter into the tray. Some will fall onto the tree itself, some will not.
Now invite your child to count the number of buttons, or apples, that are on the tree.
We don’t count the number of apples that did NOT fall on the tree. Rather, as I work with my students on a one-on-one basis, I say something like this:
You dropped ten apples on the tree. Seven landed on the tree and three fell off the tree. Did you still drop ten apples?
This teaches my preschoolers, indirectly, how to compose ten. That the quantity ten can be made up of several combinations, but they always start and end with ten buttons. Eventually, as they master counting and more basic addition activities like this one, they will learn that when you count two quantities, you end up with a third total quantity.
Adapt Apple Counting Activities to Multiple Levels
Apple Drop Counting game can be adapted to teach several math skills. Here are some ideas:
- Adjust the number of buttons used. Offer more for children who have a firm grasp on counting, and less for children who are just learning.
- Teach more and less by having the children identify if more apples fell onto the tree or more fell off the tree. If they are unsure of numbers, have them line up the buttons to see which line makes the longest train. (Although this only works if all the buttons are the same size).
- Use this game to teach composing ten, as referenced in the photos above.
- Reinforce subitizing skills by inviting children to quickly “count” the buttons on the tree by just a short glance. This is known as subitizing, which is the automatic recognition of quantities, like dots on a dice. (Note: research supports introducing subitizing with familiar object arrangements, such as those on dice or in a ten frame. If your child is younger than first grade, he may struggle with the buttons falling into random arrangements.)