"Ten Apples Up on Top": Preschool Lesson Plan on Counting

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Ten Apples Up on Top by Dr. Seuss is a silly story about some animals competing to see who can balance the most apples on their heads without dropping them. Young children will laugh as the animals add more and more apples to make ten. This lesson plan uses the book to help preschool children practice counting to ten.


Ten Apples Up on Top by Dr. Seuss

10 large apple die cuts

Large sheet of chart paper and chart marker


Small red circles to use as counters, ten per child

Blank paper or math journals



Show the children the cover of the book. Read the title and author. Ask them what they think the book will be about. Begin reading the book to the children, discussing it and asking questions as you go. How many apples are they balancing now? Do you think they will fall?

After reading and discussing the book, tell the children that you are going to read it again but that this time they will practice counting the apples. Show them a large sheet of chart paper. At the bottom of the paper draw a picture of a face. Read the story again and as you read, tape apple shapes to the top of the head when the animals add new apples. Stop to count the apples each time you add one.

Next give each child about ten small red circles or small apple die cuts to use as counters. Practice counting by calling out different numbers for them to count. “Eight apples up on top.” “Three apples up on top.” Each time you call a number have the children count out that many apples. After you have called out several numbers, give each student a piece of paper and let him choose a number, glue that number of “apples” on his paper and write the number. You can also do this in math journals if you use them.


Informally assess the children as you call out numbers for them to count out. Walk around the room observing the children as they count. Do they count out the correct numbers? You can also assess the final paper that they glue the apples on. Did the number of counters they glued match the number they wrote on the paper?

Extension Activities

Take a photograph of each child’s face. Cut out their heads and have them glue them to a large sheet of manila paper. Then let each choose how many apples she wants to balance and glue that many apples to her paper, so that it looks like she is balancing them. Write the sentence “___________ apples up on top.” on each child’s paper. Hang these on a bulletin board for a cute counting display or bind all of the pages together to make a class counting book.

Make a Ten Apples up on Top math center. Draw pictures of different animals balancing different numbers of apples on their heads on large index cards. Laminate them. Place them in the center so that the children can count the apples and write the correct number on the cards with a dry erase markers. Let them trade cards with a partner to check.

This is a perfect book to use to teach students how to count. Your students will enjoy listening to this silly story while improving their math skills.