“We’ve been learning all about apples for awhile now. Who can remember the name of a group of apple trees?” I ask.
I choose a girl who says, “Orchard!”
“Exactly!” I say with a smile… (I was hoping they’d remember that vocabulary term, but I wasn’t 100% sure. Whew!)
“Today, we are going to make our own apple orchard. A Counting Orchard! We are going to practice writing numbers and showing them with a quantity of apples, and we will put our trees together to make an orchard!”
I show the students how to use a tracer to trace and cut out 2 green tree tops.
On one of the tree tops, I tell them to write their name and a number. We can put 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 apples on our tree. “How many?” I ask to confirm. The students repeat my numbers back, but I’m sure a few of my 33 pals have missed the detail about quantity of apples. (Later if find out, I’m 100% right in that suspicion!)
“Now, here’s the cool part: Did you wonder how I got those cool, teeny tiny apples on our apple cards?” I ask.
One little guy says he thought I bought the apple cards, and I grin. My homemade apple cards are cute, but they don’t look professionally made at all!
Another turkey says, “Well, you are a really good cutter.” “And you tell us you’ve been cutting for 300 years!” another adds. Hmm. Maybe they do listen more than I realize, since I have a habit of telling them daily, “I cut quickly because I have been cutting for 300 years, but you take your time!”
“Actually, I have this super cool big person tool that I want to show you. This [holding up my apple puncher] is a hole punch in the shape of an apple! You can use it to punch out 1 or more of your apples!” (Yes, only in kindergarten or at some scrap booking party would a $5 hole punch from Michael’s be such a crowd pleaser!
I demonstrate how to slide a small piece of apple-colored paper (light green, yellow, or red) into the apple hole cutter and press out an apple. And audible “Ahhh…” falls on our group. (I love 5 year-olds!)
I ask again: ‘Now, remind me: how many apples can I put on my tree?” Students respond.
“Can 1 apple tree have a bunch of different-colored apples on it?” Students respond, “No!” My one little guy who loves thinking out of the box notes, “Well, apples are green before they turn their real color, unless they stay green…”
“Good point!” I note. It’s always good to see little kiddos thinking carefully. “Let’s say that our apples are all ripe, so they would be one color on our tree right now.”
I choose 3 apples, and demonstrate how to use the white glue to make 3 tiny dots of glue on the tree shape. “Just a dot—not a lot—a little dab of glue will do!” I remind them, but most of them join in, since we say that little chant at least once a day.
As students create their apple trees, bowls are on the tables with pre-cut apples, so if a back-log of students begins to occur, each student can punch out one apple and then select their other apples without making the crowd wait too long.
“Now we need a tree trunk!” I announce. I show them how to take a brown marker and color both sides of a fat craft stick. “If you are waiting for the apple punch, you can color your tree trunk,” I advise.
I demonstrate how to put it all together, with the tree trunk protruding from the center of the tree topper, the apples on one side and their student’s name on the other. I tell them that I will magically turn our trees into a real live stand-up orchard during recess, but they look confused.
After the students are mostly complete with their trees, we meet back in our “meeting spot” while the last few students finish up.
We discuss the number of trees that are each type of apple: Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, or Granny Smith, and agree that more of us made Red Delicious trees.
To focus on our numbers and quantities, I ask a series of questions, like “Who put 1 apple on their tree? Can we see the trees with 2 apples?” and so forth, until we get to 5. (The little guy who put 7 apples on his tree doesn’t get 7 called, but he doesn’t make an issue of it.) I compliment well-formed numbers as we review.
When asked about their favorite part of the activity, the students unanimously say that they loved the apple hole punch. Kindergartners are so funny! Well, while enjoying the oddly-shaped hole punch, we got in some number practice!
(While the students are out at recess, I actually do make a really crude flour and water paste that I shove into a tiny bathroom-size drink cup for each student’s tree, so that the trees actually stand up. The kids really do see an orchard when they come back inside, and they are so pleased.)