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"Ten Apples Up On Top!"

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Connecting math and literature enhances students' mathematical understanding. Theo. Le Sieg's (Dr. Suess) "Ten Apples Up On Top!" is not only a fun story, it also helps students practice counting and increases their number sense.

Make a class book based on the story
This is an excellent story about animals balancing apples on their heads. It is funny and children love it. The characters become quite competitive as the story progresses and the dilemma is solved by the end. It also contains lots of rhyming words.

math & literature connectionsDay 1 - Read the whole story and have fun with it. Let those students who want to comment on the story, do so. Keep the conversation focused on the book and not too long or you will lose the children's attention. Leave the story on display so that children can look more closely at it.

Day 2 - Review the book. Look at the picture on the cover and at some of the inside pictures. Talk about who wrote the story and drew the pictures. Before teaching any math with "Ten Apples Up On Top!", encourage the students to think about the story.

A few topics/activities to instigate discussions (choose a few):

  • Talk about balancing things on heads
  • Show a few pictures of people from other cultures who carry items by balancing them on their heads. Talk about why.
  • Try balancing pencils on fingers
  • Let the students try walking with a book on their heads
  • Put balancing toys in the science experiment center

Day 3 - Reread "Ten Apples Up On Top!". This time stop and count apples on some of the pages. Use terms more than, fewer than, large, larger, largest.

math and literatureDay 4 - Make a class book based on the story and call it "We Have Apples Up on Top".


8.5 x 11 lightweight card with words photocopied or glued on,
one per child
About 4 - 7 cut out apples per child.

Fold red paper and cut out lots at a time, they don't have to be perfect. A good job for a parent helper. Red construction paper for children who want to cut out more apples or smaller apples.

Photocopy the following words on the bottom of lightweight card or print the words on paper and glue them to the bottom of the card.

______________ has __________ red apples up on top.

Demonstrate first.

Print your name on the first line with bright colored felts.
Draw a small picture of yourself or just your head right above the sentence.
Glue some apples on top of the head picture.
Count apples and print the number on the second line.
Read the sentence to the class. Count the apples.

I usually do two demos, the second one showing almost everything that can go wrong. I start it with "This time I'm going to make mistakes. Can you find my mistakes?"

For the "Ten Apples Up On Top!" activity, I make the first letter of my name so big I can't fit the rest on the line. I then draw myself too big and have no room to glue the apples on my head. The kids find it funny and it makes them aware of what could go wrong.

apple  mathI have extra pages if a child is unhappy with his/her results and wants to try again. Tell them that artists often try over and over again until they create a picture that they are pleased with.

As this is usually part of a September Apple Unit, students may need help with their names, counting, or printing numbers. Assemble the pages into a book with a large metal ring in the top corner.

The children love hearing their page read over and over. Leave the new class book with the book, "Ten Apples Up On Top!" and they can read both. This is a great open-ended activity.

One child drew two heads, put apples on both and reported how many apples on each head and how many all together.

Extension activities for Ten Apples Up On Top...

More Apple Theme Literacy and Art Ideas...

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