Guided math centers have easily become my favorite time of the day! It amazes me to see the progress kids make during this time. They run so smoothly, students are so engaged and to be honest, it’s just plain fun. While I’ve used the book, Daily 5 with the focus on the Daily 3 to get me started. But, I’ve had to tweak it a bit here and there to fit my own classroom.
One of our centers is meet the teacher. This is actually what it looks like – sometimes a lot going on and a little messy! But that’s life in kindergarten!
We start with a warm up to build number sense. The kids usually start working independently for a few minutes while I get all the groups set up, and then head back to start our math task. At this point in the year, we complete missing number hundreds charts. Each one is missing a different number and the kids go through and fill them in. For our math task, we start by circling any numbers or words we know. Then we solve the task together.
Here’s an example of some of the tasks we use together:
This time of year, we always practice writing an equation, or labeling a pattern (ex. AB, ABB, ABC) and we write our answer with a label. This format is from my February Math Tasks resource. We use the same format each month, with a different theme. Since I switch my centers out every 6 days, I copy a few different math tasks for each level group. This helps make the center more independent when they have seen the same format each time, the littles know what to do without me! I just chime in to probe some thoughtful questions, and engage them in some good math conversations to explain their thinking.
While we work together in the back of the room, the rest of the kids are working in small groups of 3-4 kids on independent or team activities. We do math writing, math by myself, and math with someone that change out activities each week. Right now, we tend to work on roll, add color activities. These are a class favorite and are simple for kids to work on! The other center activities are usually write the room, or a whole group game that we have introduced to the whole class.
I use a colored system for tiered grouping. Orange, purple, and green. I tried to find colors that don’t elude to the high/low groupings. I also use shapes to identify the groups. Depending on which center they go to, they take out their materials from a colored folder. I use a variety of differentiated centers to be able to meet kids on their level. The kids work hard for our 15 minutes, and they know right after math comes playtime – which might be another reason this is one of our favorite times in the day!
Some things to keep in mind when starting math centers in kindergarten…
When I first get started with our math centers in September, I try to remind myself that they are just little. They just got dropped off from preschool. They still want to play and explore…and I can’t blame them! So while I’m establishing those first math center rotations, my goals are to let them become familiar with the routines and expectations of what goes on in math centers. I want them to start to explore the different kinds of materials that we will be using. I don’t expect to just throw some tens and ones manipulatives out there and NOT have them building or making letters or seeing how tall they can stack them. The bottom line: If you give them that time to explore a bit, they’ll be more likely to work after.