Using HABA Orchard for Math

Board and card games are one of my favorite ways to teach.  They make learning fun.  This makes repeat exposure, a useful tool in teaching, easy.  Haba’s Orchard games lends itself well to the math concepts of picture graphs, bar graphs, and comparisons.

Haba’s orchard is a simple cooperative game. I’m a big fan of cooperative games for young children, because they shift the focus from playing against each other to working together to accomplish something.  This is the perfect mindset for learning. The objective of the game is to harvest all the fruit from the trees before the crow does. There are four fruit trees to collect fruit from: apples, pears, plums, and cherries.

We start off by playing the game, keeping our piles of fruit we are collecting through the game separate for each player.  When we finish the game, the fun begins. I start by saying, “Let’s line up the plums,” and “How many plums did you collect?”  Then I ask, as we are lining up our plums, how many each of us collected.  We move on to the other fruits, lining each up along side the first, while asking the same questions. I am sure to keep the fruits even, so they are easy to compare.  This sets up an easy picture graph for comparison.

picture graph

After our fruits are in order, I start asking other comparison questions.
“Which fruit did you collect the most of?”
“Which fruit did you collect the least of?”
“Can you see I have more plums than cherries, because my plums make a higher line than my cherries?”
“Which fruit did I collect the most of?”
“Which fruit did I collect the least of?”
“Did I have more apples or pears?”
“By how many?”

This last question can be challenging for a young mind. I start asking this question with two fruits that are adjacent to one another.  If they have difficulty, then I take the top fruits of the greater value off, leaving the two fruits even, and then ask, “How many do we have to take away to make them even?”

Be sure to save some of your comparison! You’ll need them for the bar graph. We graph the results of our game on graph paper.  (You could also use ruled paper.)


I set the graph paper above our picture graph so it’s easy to compare and graph. I draw a picture of each of the fruits on the bottom row, we start talking about one fruit at a time.

“How many plums do you have?”
“Then we will need to color in four boxes.”
“How many cherries do we have?”
“Then we will need to color in seven boxes. Can you take the red marker and color seven boxes beside the blue?”

Notice that I’ve also coordinated the colors on the graph with the colors of the fruit.  This makes translating the picture graph to a bar graph easier.  My daughter loves to both draw the fruits at the bottom and, of course, color in her graphs.

Those comparison questions I said to save, I use those for the bar graph. Putting the pieces aside or just lifting the paper, so it is our focus, we start discussing comparisons just using the graph.

And that’s how we fit our math in for the day!

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