Math Center Ideas For Kindergarten That Are Actually Fun

Most teachers are familiar with using math centers in the classroom. Centers provide a great way to practice skills while encouraging group interaction. They also allow students to work with concepts while teachers employ direct instruction with an individual student or small group of students. Centers can provide the perfect opportunity for students to use manipulatives for practice. 

Math instruction, especially for younger students, is often most effective with manipulatives. Children learn math concepts more easily when they are able to touch, move, and see them in action. They can explore challenging concepts with manipulatives, and increase their confidence before moving on to algorithms or memorization. 

Ready to use centers and manipulatives in the classroom, but not sure where to start? Here is an easy way to get started with math centers.

First, choose an area that will store your math centers where students can access them. You may use a particular bookcase, or even a rolling cart that can be moved as needed. Next, choose containers for your manipulatives. Fabric bins with a clear window for labels are a great choice, as you can put one of the manipulatives in the window to identify what belongs in that bin. Even the youngest students can then clean up easily.

 You will also need containers for your task cards (or “recipes”), and a container for the worksheets needed. Worksheets can be placed in clear pockets and students can use dry erase markers if you like the idea of using less paper. Be sure students know where to turn in assignments if you would like to check them. 

Now that you have your “Math Cafe” ready, you can add the assignments to match your needs! Each recipe card should list the manipulatives needed, how many students should be in the group, and worksheets needed. It should also include picture cues for younger students. Students can then choose a recipe card and complete the tasks independently. 

math centers

The tasks do not need to be super involved- just simple, fun, and engaging. Need some help finding the right tasks for kindergarten? Check out my Kindergarten Math Centers Yearlong Bundle. This bundle includes enough math salad bar or math cafe task cards for 14 math units.

math centers

You’ll also get posters, assessments, photos, material lists, crafts, and more!

Here’s a video tutorial on how to set it up in your classroom

 

Your students will love visiting the Math Cafe and practicing their skills!

For more kindergarten tips, check out my post on homework ideas for kindergarten students.

math centers


 

Using Games In The Classroom

Games are an important part of childhood. From sports to board games, children all over the world play together to learn social skills and have fun. However, games haven’t always been a welcome strategy in the classroom. In the schools of the not-so-distant past, they were something kids were to do on the playground or at home- but not in their classrooms. Fortunately, thoughts have changed. We now know that games can teach important skills while students have fun! 

If you’re ready to get your students more excited about learning, pull out some classroom games. Students will be more motivated to pay attention to the subject matter, and will be more engaged. They will positively associate learning the subject matter with having fun. This will increase their success with the material, and make your job a little easier!

Your kids will also develop stronger critical thinking skills while playing games. Depending on the object of the game, they might have to try new strategies, think ahead, or switch plans. In addition to content mastery, students learn social skills while playing classroom games. They experience winning and losing, taking turns, and co-operating. These skills are necessary for working with other people even in adulthood. 

One of my favorite classroom game sets is Kindergarten Math Games. It is designed for pre-k and kindergarten classrooms to make practicing important math skills more fun (check out my Kindergarten Math Salad Bar here)! It includes several options for single players to complete on their own as well as games for two players to take turns. Students will learn to count and recognize numbers 1-6 while playing the games. You can simply print the game boards out, give students a 6-sided die, and let the fun begin! 

Games

Another resource available for FREE right now is the 10 More Or Less Game. It is ideal for students in grades K-2. This activity helps students understand the number concepts of 10 more and 10 less. It can be played as a whole group so you can help students understand how it works. Then students can play with small groups or partners. Your kids will love learning math skills while having fun with their peers!

Games

What games do you like to play in the classroom? Let me know in the comments!

games

How To Set Up A Math Cafe

Kindergarten Math Cafe

Looking for a NEW way to engage your students in learning math at the beginning of the year? Creating a Math Cafe or Math “Salad Bar” is a great way to hit target skills, engage the students, and free you up to monitor learning. You can use the “recipe” cards as task cards, set up a cafe in your room, or just use the printables in small or whole groups.

math centers

What is a Math Café?

I like to keep all of my math manipulatives in one place, and hold students responsible for cleaning up after their activity. You can make your Math Café out of a bookcase or a rolling cart.

 A student pulls out the manipulative cart (Café). Students choose a recipe card (task card – with the material list, number of people who can participate in the math activity and directions), choose their partners if required, fill their tray with materials, do the activity anywhere in the room, and easily clean up by using a tray to hold their materials. 

You float around and take notes. One task card is labeled “Teacher’s Group.” This can be used when you see a student needs extra help with a concept. They will sit with you to review the concept, if you give them the card. There are also ipad, computer and blank recipe cards.

My Math Cafe Kindergarten Math Centers resource will give you everything you need for your own Math Cafe. 

This resource focuses on counting and cardinality numbers 1-5. 

math centers

Here’s a look at what you’ll get: 

  •  Standards
  • Unit 1 Counting and Cardinality with Numbers to 5 Directions, Suggestions, and Links
  • Materials List Needed for Activities
  • Task Cards (“Recipe Cards”) 1 Blank, 1 Teacher Station, 1 Computer Station, 1 ipad Station
  • Trace Write Draw Activity
  •  Read and Roll Card with Printable
  • Spin and Color the Fish
  • Spin ROLL Doh WRITE
  •  RACE CAR Game
  • Race and Roll to the TOP
  • Cover It –Spin a Number
  • Roll and Color a Picture
  • Number Order (count on from a given number)
  • Trace the Numbers (using sheet pan, magnetic numbers)
  •  Roll and Color (5 Frame)
  • Roll and Build a Cube Tower
  • Bowling with Markers
  • Roll and color the Bugs
  • Roll and Cover Caterpillar (with pom poms)
  • Race and Roll to the Top with Number Words
  • Count and Color the Number
  • Color by Number (Roll a die.)
  • Assessment Numbers 1-5
  • Small Posters for Touch Math Numbers 1-9
  •  Posters for Numbers 1-20 with Ten Frames
  •  Rules Sign
  • Math Café Sign
  • Recording Data Sheet for Teacher
  • Pictures of Set Up

 

Here is a helpful video about how to set up a Math Cafe or Math Salad Bar for math centers in your kindergarten classroom! 

 

 

If you love this bundle, you’ll also love my Math Centers Yearlong Bundle! It includes 14 units along with the Math Cafe bundle above to keep your students engaged with fun math centers for the entire school year.

math centers

math centers

For more Kindergarten math center fun, check out this post here! 

How do you like to make your math centers more engaging? Let me know in the comments!

Math Centers for Kindergarten

I’m so glad you’ve stopped by my blog. Some bloggy friends and I have joined together for an old fashioned FREEBIE BLOG HOP! Not familiar with a blog hop? Here’s how it works…
Kindergarten Math Centers Freebie
blog hop      Kindergarten math centers

Each blogger has a “forever” freebie to offer you. That means it is not seasonal but can be used in your classroom at any time of the year. The freebies range from PK-5th grades. You start here and “hop” to the other blogs to download the resources that are appropriate for you and then end up back here at my blog. It’s a giant circle that will give you 23 awesome resources if you go to them all! There are 14 for PK-2.

Along the way, you will see pictures of and read about each freebie. You can download them all (to save for later) or only the ones that you need right now. If you don’t have time to go to all 23, click on one of the buttons below for your grade level.

Math “Salad Bar”

When I was teaching kindergarten, I attended a conference where someone talked about keeping a “Math Salad Bar” as a way to organize your manipulatives. You would take your manpulatives and keep them labeled and in one spot so students could easily find what they needed for a math task. I decided to take that idea and put it on steroids! I created recipe cards (task cards), used bowls for them to collect their materials, bought cafe trays and even had a rolling cart that the kids would roll to the middle of the room to begin the math centers.

Student Choice Works

Students would pick a recipe card that had the list of materials (ingredients) to complete their math activity. The card would say how many people it serves. The student picks partners if required. That group goes anywhere in the room to complete their activity. I would have several ways for students to learn one concept. So even though they all were working on the same standard, they were doing something different. They loved being able to choose their activity. My job was to observe, solve conflicts (which was rare after the first week) and take data on who needed more help in different areas.

Kindergarten Subtraction Math Centers

Math Center Problems

When we first began kindergarten math centers this new way, there were a couple issues to iron out. The main issue was how some students would react negatively if they were asked to join the activity. The person I called on would got to ask for people to join the activity, if needed. Some students were not happy about being called by certain students and it made a great discussion about feelings during circle time. After a week of students seeing that I would rotate who got to choose their task first, and talking about how sad it makes someone feel if you are rude when they were happy to pick you, they really took off and were begging for our Math Salad Bar time. Matter of fact if they had to do a traditional lesson and work alone, they were not happy about it.

Try these 3 center activities for FREE.

Why Kindergarten Math Centers?

You can still teach whole group lesson right before centers. Math centers frees you up to learn about what your students are learning. One task card is for the teacher to use called Teacher’s Table. This is where you can hand it to a couple students who you see are struggling with a math skill for remediation at your table. I never use the entire center time for remediation so they get some time to do an activity. If students finish one activity, they clean up and pick a new “recipe” card. There are assessments for the students for each nine weeks, data recording sheets to share with families and detailed plans for set up with suggestions.

What is Stopping You

What is stopping you from having math centers? I promise, if you try this you WILL LOVE IT!

Find the yearlong bundle here:

Kindergarten Math Centers YEARLONG BUNDLE

Watch a tutorial VIDEO about my set up here: How to Set Up Math Centers for Kindergarten

If you need EVERYTHING to teach Kindergarten, you can get the Kindergarten Curriculum which has ALL SUBJECTS Bundled for the entire school year. Homeschoolers love this bundle!

 

Do you do anything special for math to celebrate the 100th Day of School? Read about my ideas.