Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Loving Math Centers!

When Pamela asked me to guest blog for her, I was so excited because I just LOVE taking over other people's blogs! So, thank you Pamela and followers for allowing me this time to share one of my favorite things...MATH CENTERS! I know what you're all thinking, "How do you organize your centers and actually get your kindergarteners to do work?" It's simple. Let's start at the very beginning...

When my kinders come in at the beginning of the year, majority of them are not independent and are ALWAYS calling my name {That actually never stops no matter how hard I try!} So, first things first...they have to learn the routine. I begin by having "Math Stations" in my classroom. There are two teacher lead tables {me and my TA} and two independent tables during this time. Each day we rotate the activities so that all the students get a chance to work with us and have independent time.

By January, my kinders are very good at working independently at their tables and are now ready to have a few choices during math time. We discuss and model what "Math Centers" are going to look and sound like so that everyone understands the expectations! Here are a few pictures of how things run in my room...


I believe one of the most important things to having successful math centers is to teach your kids where the materials are located in the room. I have this fancy green cart {that holds a lot of other stuff too} located in the front of my room that houses my math center tubs. Each tub is numbered so students can easily identify and retrieve the correct tub without my help. At the beginning of the week, I print a small choice board for my kinders to keep in their work folders. Before we begin our new centers, we discuss each activity and whether the kids will need to get extra materials from our math shelf to complete it. Tub 1 and 2 are always teacher lead while the other tubs are review and extra practice on skills we've already covered. I even have a few FREE centers included such as pattern blocks, big blocks, & Promethean Board {online math games}.

This is an example of our choice board. As you can see, I have a tub number in each box so the students will know which container to get for their activity. These activities are created by me and you can find them in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I simply take screen shots {Promethean Board camera tool} of the activities to create these choice boards. I also create a simple flip chart page for my Promethean Board so students can sign-up by moving their name to the box they choose for that day. I can easily print the page for my own records which I think is better than keeping a checklist. Who has time for that...RIGHT?

One of my rules is that only 4 people can sign up for each tub per day...this keeps the noise down and insures that other things besides the FREE centers get chosen. My kinders LOVE the freedom of choosing their own center which is great for me because when they get rowdy I can simply say, "Oh, you must want me to pick centers for you from now on?" This one little sentence really clicks with them and I hardly ever have to say it again!

Once students complete an activity, they put it in the "finished tub" and are allowed to pick a math bucket {manipulatives} until the timer rings. Our centers last between 20-25 minutes each day, which seems to be more than enough time for everyone to complete their task.

I have been teaching kindergarten for 10 years now and have tried a lot of different ways to have a successful math time. At first, using a choice board seemed like a crazy idea for kindergarteners but just like everything else if you spend enough time on the routine the kids will get it and succeed! My students' math achievements were out of this WORLD this past year and I give this method majority of the credit. {I get a little...RIGHT?}

Thanks for stopping by and spending a little time with me! Please come visit me at my blog, Lanier's Lions! {Click on my button to be directed to my blog}

NicoleLanier's LionsFacebook


  1. Thank you!! This has really helped me in my planning for next year!! I am Pinning this!! :)

  2. Do you have a rquirement that they have to pick a different center each day?

    1. Yes. All of my kinders have their own copy of the choice board that they keep in their work folder. After they make their choice on the Promethean Board {for my records}, they cross the activity off of their choice board. I do have a few kinders who often lose their choice board, which is why I print the flip chart page from the PBoard. Having my own record helps me see which activities they haven't completed. Another rule that I made up during the year is this..."If you lose your choice board, Mrs. Lanier gets to pick your center!" This actually helped some of my kids become a little more responsible. LOL

  3. Great ideas. My problem this year was checking the finished work and giving timely feedback. For example, if the work was done completely wrong, too sloppy, no name, etc. how/when do you check it and get it back in order to make a difference? This year I had students keep their finished work on their desks and I would go around furiously trying to check it at recess (I developed a very strong bladder this year LOL). Any suggestions would be welcome.

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