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.
I first introduced this fun one to one correspondence game last fall in preschool math 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. In fact, it’s an easy one to pull our for all sorts of preschool counting activities and it’s definitely a favorite fall math activity.
Probably because preschoolers love listening to the buttons scatter as they drop on the mat. Counting objects (erh –apples) has never been so fun. It’s that apple sensory piece.
Grab Some Preschool apple Themed Activities
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, but of course this version pairs with our apple 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
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.
Don’t Forget Apple Picture Books
Adapt Apple Counting Activities to Multiple Levels
Fall apple games like this one can be adapted to teach several math skills. It’s like taking one counting game and making it into many counting games.
Here are some ideas for more practice in counting:
- 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.)
- Add this board game with apple tree to a sensory bin full of rice and play the same game. But this time your preschoolers will have fun counting and searching for the buttons as they fall into the bin.
Get your Apple Drop Counting Mat Here!
Think this apple tree board game is something you just have to add to your other number drop games? Grab your free printable by filling out the form below.
Related Apple Activities for Preschoolers
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.