One of our favourite materials to use with our toddlers and preschoolers is playdough. From creating invitations to play to using it for learning activities it’s easy to use in a variety of different situations. This apple playdough mat which focuses on counting is great for using this autumn to support your toddler and preschooler with 1 to 1 correspondence and counting out objects.

Collage of 2 images of the free printable apple playdough mats being used to count 5 and 10 apples on the tree

Apple Counting Printable

Although we are not a fan of worksheets here in the rainy day house, we do love reusable playable activities and our print and play store is full of them. This apple number playdough mat is just one of the free printable games and hands-on activities you will find over there.

Although we have created this as a playdough counting to 20 mat by laminating it you could also use it with pompoms, apple counters or even some red buttons.

counting apples playdough mat ready for preschooler to use

Working on numbers 1 to 20 these number playdough mats can be used with your own numbers (magnetic or wooden) or with the supplied apple and plain number cards.

What your Preschooler and Toddler will Learn with the Apple Counting Mats

  • Counts objects to 10, and beginning to count beyond 10
  • Selects the correct numeral to represent 1 to 5, then 1 to 10 objects
  • Counts an irregular arrangement of up to ten objects

How to Make Playdough Mats

We love simple and playdough mats are so easy to make.

Just get the free printable playdough mat from our store, download it to your computer, print.

1 red apple on the tree

Then either, laminate straight away (we have left enough room so that you should be able to hole punch) or like we have cut out the “board” area and then laminate leave a good space so that you can hole punch making it easy to store in a lever arch file and reuse.

How Much Playdough Do you Need for this Playdough Mat

As this playdough mat is working on counting up to 20 and the apple tree is fairly small you will only need a small amount of playdough. One of the party favour size tubs is going to be more than enough.

pinterest image for an apple playdough mat for preschoolers

Of course, you could use the easy homemade playdough recipe or even the apple-scented playdough, which is perfect for adding an extra sensory dimension to this toddler and preschool maths activity.

Using the Free Apple Playdough Mat Printable

So how do you go about using this printable playdough mat with your toddlers and preschoolers? The first thing you need to do is work out which numbers you are going to focus on with your child.

5 red apples on the playdough mat apple tree

For example, if using with a young toddler you may want to start with just numbers 1 to 3. A preschooler that has mastered there numbers 1 to 10 you can introduce counting on with the numbers 11 to 20.

how many apples on the tree playdough mat for counting

We have laminated our apple counting cards and use them with this activity, but also in making number lines and with our apple counters for more number activities with our young children.

For independent maths play we place the counting mat, the cards and some playdough or other “apple” manipulative on a tray and either set it up as a simple maths centre or use it for some quiet time learning.

apple playdough mat in use by preschooler

Then decide how you will be using it with your child. We have 3 different ways that we use the mats with our tots.

  • Counting out objects
  • Matching the numerals to the objects
  • Counting one more and one less from a number

Counts Objects to Match a Number

The first and the main way we use it for independent activities as well as our “teaching time” together is to make playdough apples and place them on the apple tree matching them to the number apple card.

Finds the Number to Match the Objects

When we have “teaching time” together we like to switch it up a little. By instead of counting the apples to match the number we match the number to the apples on the tree.

Either you or your preschooler can place some “apples” on the tree and then count them to find the matching number.

With toddlers and younger preschooler it works better if you do the placing of the apples and they then count them out.

To make it easier for them, try and use a regular arrangement so lines of apples rather than random at first.

One More and One Less Apple

With our preschoolers we start to introduce the concept of one more and one less the basics of addition and subtraction.

So we pick a number card, they then place the correct number of apples and we then ask the questions…

“How many apples with one more?”

“How many apples with one less?”

They can give us a number, then either add an extra apple to their tree or remove one and recount to check their answers.

toddler and preschool apple counting mats free printable

Apple Counting Books to Read Alongside the Activity

We have included affiliate links to some of the products and resources as an associate we may earn from qualifying purchases.

How about reading some of these apple books that feature counting as well.

More Apple Themed Activities for Toddlers and Preschoolers

If you are using these apple playdough mats as part of an apple theme why not try some of these other apple learning activities and crafts for preschoolers and toddlers

apples in barrel with a ladder in the orchard text overlay reads Apple Books for Toddlers and Preschoolers
toddler making apple prints

Add some apple themed books to your book basket and read about everything from apple picking days out to the life cycle of the apple.

Experiment with the 5 sense with our preschool apple science experiment.

Create a simple apple tree sensory bag and count the apples as you pick them from the tree.

Our favourite apple activity for art and crafts is to create our own apple prints.

collage of images of a playdough mat featuring an apple tree being used. Pinterest Image for fall math activities for preschool
Author
Cerys Parker

Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, high school teacher and mum. Realising that life doesn't have to be put on hold and you don't just have to survive whilst the kids are young she shares ideas to inspire you to LIVE with the kids, with activities to do together, recipes to cook and enjoy and family travel to make memories to last a lifetime.

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