Counting ten red apples for preschool math

Sometimes, coming up with a math component in your preschool lesson plans can seem rather daunting but there are many tools you can use for helping design fun and inviting mathematical activities.  One simple way to get the ideas flowing is to look for children’s books that promote counting and other mathematical concepts.

“Ten Red Apples” by Pat Hutchins is a book that I really love to use for counting forwards and backwards from the number ten!  On each page of the book is an opportunity to reinforce counting as well as number recognition.

I like to combine the book with other tools for counting such as flannel board apples or apple stick puppets. As I read the book, the children pick an apple from the flannel board tree or I invite the children to hold the stick puppets up high and as we count down, they put their apples on the floor in the center of the circle.

As with any book, I want to give the children time to explore the concepts on their own later. I will usually give the felt pieces or the stick puppets (along with the book) to the children to play with and invite them to do a little counting on their own.

I also like to throw in a finger play that promotes some counting as well…

Way up high in the apple tree

Five red apples smiled at me.

I shook that tree as hard as I could,

Down came an apple

Mmmm, it was good!

Way up high in the apple tree

Four red apples smiled at me.

I shook that tree as hard as I could,

Down came an apple

Mmmm, it was good!

Repeat with three…

Then Two…

Then One…

When I have a smaller group, I like to set the apples on the flannel board with a felt tree. When I have a large group, I set the felt pieces on trays. It doesn’t really matter but I find that by giving the children their own tray of felt pieces, they spend more time sitting, talking, counting, and sharing with each other.


  1. says

    There are some authors that are just so switched on when it comes to creating quality (educational) books that children love. I love Pat Hutchinson and these are great ideas :)

    • Deborah J. Stewart says

      HI Vanessa – actually, I have to tell you that I didn’t make up Five Little Apples – it is a very old favorite!!

  2. says

    I like how you brought the math book into the theme. We as educators real need to do this more. Thanks for sharing. I will be digging out all my math books.