Ten Apples on Top Lesson Plan

Instructor: Bethany Calderwood

Bethany has taught special education in grades PK-5 and has a master's degree in special education.

This lesson uses Dr. Seuss' 'Ten Apples Up On Top' to teach students how to write simple addition sentences and find the missing term in an addition sentence. The lesson includes large and small group work, as well as kinesthetic and artistic components.

Learning Objective

As a result of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • write simple addition sentences to express word problems.
  • use manipulatives to find the missing number in simple addition sentences.


  • One hour

Curriculum Standards


Use addition and subtraction within 20 to solve word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing, with unknowns in all positions, e.g., by using objects, drawings, and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.


Relate counting to addition and subtraction (e.g., by counting on 2 to add 2).


Determine the unknown whole number in an addition or subtraction equation relating three whole numbers. For example, determine the unknown number that makes the equation true in each of the equations 8 + ? = 11, 5 = _ - 3, 6 + 6 = _.

Vocabulary and Phrases

  • Addition sentence
  • Plus sign
  • Equals sign
  • Sum


  • Ten Apples Up On Top by Dr. Seuss
  • Plastic apples (or something to represent them) and masking tape or Velcro to stick them together
  • Counting pieces (apples or fruit if possible, to match the book, but any counters will work)
  • Dice (one die per student)
  • Worksheet for the dice game (see activity instructions)
  • Paper and writing/drawing materials
  • Set of index cards with addition sentences that are each missing one term (see activity instructions)

Lesson Instructions and Activities

Reading and Reenactment

  • Briefly review what addition means, and go over the parts of an addition sentence (plus sign, equals sign, sum).
  • Introduce the book Ten Apples Up On Top, telling students to look and listen for examples of addition.
  • Read the story.
  • Ask:
    • How were numbers used in this story?
    • Where did you see the characters using addition?
  • Re-read the book, using student volunteers to act as the main characters (lion, dog, and tiger). Use plastic apples (or something similar) to stack on the students' heads as apples are added in the book. You can attach them with velcro or masking tape.
  • For each applicable page, pause and write an addition sentence on the board that matches the page (or have student volunteers write the addition sentences).
    • Example: For the page that reads ''You can do three but I can do more. You have three but I have four,'' the addition sentence is 3 + 1 = 4.

Creating Addition Sentences

  • Divide students into pairs. Each pair will need two dice, a set of counting pieces, and a worksheet with blank addition sentences. (_ + _ = _)
  • In each pair, one student rolls a die, then writes the number they rolled as the first part of the addition sentence (if they roll a 2, write a 2). That student should also count out the same number of counting pieces and place them in a pile.
  • Then, the second student rolls a die and writes the number they roll as the second part of the addition sentence (for example, roll a 3, write a 3). They should count out that number of counting pieces.
  • Students will count the pieces to find the sum, and write the sum in the appropriate place (2 + 3 = 5).

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