Array Apple Counting Preschool DIY | Montessori From The Heart

Apple Counting Preschool DIY

Counting Apples Preschool Recycled Cardboard DIY Kids Numeracy Activity

Apple Counting preschool cardboard recycled DIY math activity for preschoolers and kindergartners reinforces rational counting, one-to-one correspondence, color matching, and pattern skills.

This apple counting preschool recycled DIY promotes rational counting for numerals one through five. Besides, the preparation is very cost-effective since you will make this activity mainly from recycled materials. Most importantly, this presentation is a hands-on introduction to one-to-one correspondence using apples as manipulatives, which are abundant this time of the year.

Why Teaching Rational Counting Is Important

Once a child can count to five or ten, it is important to shift focus from making that number bigger to assuring that a child can reliably and rationally count a small number of manipulatives and assign that quantitative sum to a numeral. Offering a child opportunities to count rationally common items, such as apples, is especially useful in the early stages of numeracy assimilation. When a child masters rational counting, they learn to count objects reliably, only once and one at a time, and assign a total value (a cardinal number) while answering the question, “How many objects are there in total?”

You’ll Need for Apple Counting Preschool Recycled DIY

Counting Apples Preschool Recycled Cardboard DIY Kids Numeracy Activity
Counting Apples Preschool Recycled Cardboard DIY Kids Numeracy Activity

Instructions for Apple Counting Preschool Recycled DIY:

First, glue caps to the cardboard in a row: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 in each row. Then, place dot stickers into each cap, corresponding to the apples’ colors. Finally, set a numeral next to each row of caps.

Offer a child tongs to place a corresponding quantity and color of apples next to its numeral.

Why Use Apple Counting Preschool Recycled DIY to Promote Rational Counting

Rote Versus Rational Counting

Rote Counting

The difference between rote and rational counting is that the former is a process of sequentially memorizing number names and reciting numbers in order as a list, while the latter is the process of understanding the quantitative value of numbers.

With rote counting a child is listing the numbers, rather than counting them, because they memorized the number names in sequence. Counting is a different skill. A child who rote counts may not necessarily be able to count each object once or may count the same object a few times.

Children generally recite numbers before they understand the concept behind them. Rote counting is the bedrock of math learning, helping children memorize numbers in the correct order and develop overall number sense, which will lead to mastering higher-level skills, like addition and subtraction, later on. Thus, learning rote counting is essential because children need to memorize the number names and learn them in the correct sequence so they can associate each name with its symbol later on.

Games to Practice Rote Counting:

Singing Songs 

Counting by singing songs is a great way for children to practice rote counting. Songs like “One, two, buckle my shoe”, and “1, 2, 3, 4, 5, Once I Caught a Fish Alive” are fun to help children develop counting as well as verbal communication and vocabulary skills. Sing them during a morning cycle or during breaks, or while incorporating gross motor exercises. The more you sing them, the better your children’s rote counting will become!

Hide and Go Seek 

Hide and go seek is a classic game to practice rote counting. To play, one child is the “it” or the seeker, who has to find the other players. If young children are playing, invite the seeker to count to 10 before shouting, “Ready or not, here I come.” Older children can count to 50 or even 100.

Counting Cars

Counting on a car ride, things children see outside, is a great way to improve children’s counting skills and to keep them entertained on long car rides. To play, choose an object: for example, black cars, and invite a child to count them every time they see one. 


Hopscotch game has been helping children practice math for many years. Find a sidewalk, and get some chalk, and this game will build children’s rote counting, sequencing, and number recognition skills. 

Rational Counting

In the progression of learning numbers, children first learn to count (in other words, memorize a sequence of numbers.) However, the next critical step is to master rational counting and understand one-to-one correspondence. In other words, numeral-to-quantity association, which means your child is matching only one number with one group of objects. That is why we encourage our children to touch each object as they count it.

Rational counting is when a child moves beyond rote counting and can count rationally – by assigning only one number (the correct number name) to each object/manipulative as they count in succession. That is matching number names to individual items to determine how many are in the set. This approach is especially useful in the early stages of numeracy assimilation. When a child masters rational counting, they learn to count objects reliably, only once and one at a time, and assign a total value, (a cardinal number) while answering the question, “How many objects are there in total?”

Apple Counting Preschool Recycled DIY

What is One-To-One Correspondence

One-to-one correspondence is a hands-on learning technique that teaches children to count groups of objects. With one-to-one correspondence, children learn to assign just one number to each object rather than counting some twice or missing others altogether. Example of one-to-one correspondence: Asking a child to count apples by picking them from the basket, one by one.

To make sure that a child counts each object once and one at a time,  we encourage a child to touch each object as they count them aloud, or you can invite a child to mark or cross that object (if written on paper), or move the object out of the way after counting it aloud in a group.

Rational Counting Games 

There are opportunities for counting practice in all parts of everyday life. Rational and one-to-one counting games.

Count and touch everyday objects such as:

  1. books you are about to read before bed
  2. apples in a dish on a counter
  3. steps it takes to get from the kitchen to the bedroom
  4. many milk cartons on a grocery shelf
  5. candies in a jar
  6. blocks in a basket
  7. dolls on a shelf
  8. teach friends of 10
Friends of 10

For example, without a solid understanding of how a group of ten is made, what addends constitute it, and how to take that number apart and put it back up again, children are not mastering mathematical concepts. 

Apple Counting Preschool Recycled DIY Pattern Activity Extension

DIY Recycled Cardboard Apple Counting Activity for Preschoolers
DIY Recycled Cardboard Apple Counting Activity for Preschoolers

You can also choose to present this activity with manipulatives of the same color to eliminate the possible visual distraction for younger children. However, by placing two different color stickers in a pattern, you are adding an additional logical twist. Here, rows four and five have a simple growing pattern AB, AB.

Have you tried making Recycled-DIYs? How about apple-themed recycled crafts? Leave a comment if you did!

For More Math Activities

See here Early Kids Math Strategies.


90% of Brain Develops Before kindergarten 

Children are born geniuses with remarkable capabilities of the absorbent mind, where 90% of the brain develops by age five, before kindergarten! Find astounding scientific findings on children’s genius capabilities.

Keep reading


Something went wrong. Please refresh the page and/or try again.

eBOOK | THE BASICS Bringing Montessori Home

“Our work is not to teach, but to HELP the absorbent mind in its work of development. So, how marvelous it would be if by our help, if by an intelligent treatment of the child, if by understanding the needs of his physical life and by feeding his intellect, we could prolong the period of functioning of the absorbent mind!”



Also, if you are exhausted from swimming in the vast ocean of irrelevant information and saving activities you never get to! JOIN Montessori MADE-EASY membership! And if you do, the eBook THE BASICS is included in the membership amongst MANY other perks!


I am here to help! We can do this together!

♡ Enriching the Mind one Heart at a time ♡
Enriching the Mind one Heart at a time

FIND US on Instagram FacebookPinterest

You Might Also Like

No Comments


error: Alert: Content is protected !!