This apple tree counting activity is one of the best fall preschool activities! In fact, we include it in our apple preschool theme every year, we love it that much!
With this Apple Drop Counting Game, preschoolers not only sharpen their counting skills, but also learn more about composing ten and subitizing. It’s a playful way for preschoolers to learn about counting and apples at the same time!
In this math activity, preschoolers participate in a hands-on counting game with a colorful apple tree counting mat.
The playful nature of this game makes learning extra fun for preschoolers as reinforces their counting skills as well as introduces the concept of subitizing, where they learn to recognize quantities without counting each item individually.
But there’s more! Advanced preschoolers can also learn about composing ten, which is one of the foundational steps to learning addition.
Preschoolers love listening to the buttons scatter as they drop them onto the mat, which offers a unique sensory experience you don’t typically get with counting games. Counting activities – or counting apples activities – have never been so fun!
Apple Tree Counting
Get ready to catch the apples as they fall from the tree! Your preschoolers are going to be engaged with both hands in this apple counting game. It will immediately become a classroom favorite!
This apple tree math game comes with a full page, full color apple tree counting mat. There are no numbers on the mat, it’s just a great big apple tree. That’s because to play the Apple Drop Counting Game, you don’t need numerals or ten frames.
In addition to the free counting mat, you will need an apple-like counting manipulative. It’s needs to be small enough that ten “apples” can fit into a preschooler’s hand. You’ll also want to place the mat in a tray to help contain some of the mess for when the “apples fall from the tree”.
Here are some of our favorite apple counting manipulatives.
How to Play the Apple Tree Counting Game
An Apple Drop Counting Game can be played with any preschool theme. You can add this to your farm lesson plans, apple and pumpkins, fall or even food and nutrition preschool lesson plans.
Place this mat in a tray. (This is important because it will help contain the buttons as they fall.)
- Give each preschooler up to 10 apple counting manipulatives.
- Have your preschooler hold the apples in both hands and place their elbows on the table.
- Then drop the apples onto the counting mat.
The buttons will scatter into the tray. Some will fall onto the apple tree, some will not. This is by design.
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.
This is the mathematical concept that the quantity ten can be made up of several combinations, but they always start and end with ten buttons. Eventually, as preschoolers master counting with more basic addition activities like this one, they will learn that when you count two quantities, you end up with a third total quantity.
We teach this at length in our Daily Lessons in Preschool Addition Lesson Plans.
Apple Books for Preschoolers
Bringing the interesting world of apples to life in a preschool setting is as easy as flipping through the pages of apple picture books.
Through these books, preschoolers can learn all about apples, from orchard adventures to the secrets of apple trees.
More Apple Tree Counting Activities
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.
- Invite the children to quickly “count” the buttons on the tree by just a short glance. Try doing it in less than five seconds.
- Add it to a sensory bin.
- 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.
Apple Counting Mats
If Apple Drop Counting Game isn’t enough for you, then have some fun with these other apple counting mats.
- Apple Seed Counting Mats
- Ten Frame Apple Counting Mats
- Collecting Apples Counting Mat
- Counting Numbers Apple Mats
- Apple Addition Counting Mats
Get your Apple Tree 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.
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.