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


 

First Day Of School Icebreakers

The first day of school is one of the biggest days of the whole year. It is a day for meeting new people and first impressions. It is also the day you set the tone for what students can expect in your classroom. All of this newness can bring up a lot of emotions for your students. This is a day that they have been eagerly anticipating all summer. They probably stayed up late the night before, thinking about what is to come the next day. With all of the excitement and anticipation, there is sure to be a lot of nervousness too! 

Starting a new school year, with a new teacher, in a new classroom is enough to make anyone anxious. For this reason, the key is to spend the first day back helping our students feel important and comfortable in our classroom. 

A great way to do that is by having some FUN. Like the old saying goes, people will remember how you made them feel. Your students will remember how they felt in your class. Getting your students engaged in a fun activity can be a huge help in relieving stress and anxiety and help them feel comfortable and relaxed. 

One of my absolute favorite ways to do that is with Escape Rooms!

These fun interactive activities are all the rage right now. Students love them. You will easily be the most memorable teacher of your students’ life. 

That’s why I created this back to school escape room! You can use these step by step instructions to guarantee student engagement while they learn about each other and work as a team and solve a mystery and escape the classroom! With a little prep, your students will work as a team to break into a box, which breaks them out of the classroom as they beat the clock! This is a great way for ANY class to learn about their peers. 

Back to School Icebreakers

Included is a PDF file with step-by-step instructions, a link to incorporate a YouTube Video to HOOK your students into accepting a mission to break free from the Ice Queen. The mystery can only be solved by working through Icebreaker Challenges and using teamwork. Opening the box, (no locks needed) leads them to enjoy recess or a library break outside of the classroom. There are 3 tasks for the students to solve before they can break free.

Check out the YouTube introduction here! 

Looking for more first day of school icebreaker activities? Check out my Getting To Know You Fidget Spinner Activities. 

You can also check out more information on making your first day of school memorable here. 

First Day Of School Activities

What are your favorite ways to get your students to have fun on the first day? Let me know in the comments below!

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Transform Your Classroom into a Movie Theater

I always like to go “all out” during the holidays for my students.  Transforming your classroom is the easiest way to create a magical day for your students to remember forever.  In the past, I used the Polar Express theme for the holidays, but this year I looped up with several of my students from kindergarten to first grade, so I wanted to change my theme to provide a different experience.  I thought about Frozen or WIMG_5905inter Wonder Land, but when I thought about making my classroom into a Movie Theater, it felt perfect!   I could incorporate any movie with the props that I would design or get donated this year and save for future years. The first thing I did was have my students brainstorm ideas for a holiday movie theFullSizeRender (23)y
would like to watch.  They decided on classic holiday movies, like Rudolph, Frosty and The Muppets.  The Muppet’s Christmas Carol was a great fit for the day.  I then found a version of the story on YouTube to show the students the day before of movie day.  I use the story to compare and contrast the story to the movie.IMG_5982

Ask for HELP

I asked parents to for donations by sending a letter home. They donated boxes of various large boxed candies, water bottles wrapped in movie thIMG_5917emed labels, and plastic popcorn holders for the movie theater concession stand.  Our PTA let us borrow the popcorn maker they use at their events, and donated the popcorn. IMG_6112

I called the local movie theater, a local beverage distributor and several sign companies to donate props for the inside and outside of the room for the day.  They all easily said yes.  Just a phone call sometimes will work.  I had one parent agree to help decorate the day prior to the PJs at the Movies Day.  Students always like to wear their pajamas to school, so I wanted to incorporate it.  Decorating took about 4 hours.  Of course you can skip several decoration ideas to make it less time consuming.  We used red bulletin board paper around the movie screen to look like a curtain, but then found cheap red plastic table clothes worked better.  We tied fishing line from the ceiling to hold them up.  The sign companies donated static window clings to stick to the FullSizeRender (21)windows which looked like movie posters, banners to hang in the classroom and Hollywood movie starts for the ground.  We used clear contact paper to write student’s names on and stuck the names on the stars in order to be able to peel them off and reuse them next year.IMG_6070

A parent donated PVC pipes they painted black with a base on the bottom to use and make an aisle.  The students loved waiting in line at the window (Ticket Booth) to get their ticket.  You can make tickets or just buy them from Oriental Trading.  I bought a huge roll and use them all the time for other activitiesFullSizeRender (22).  I also found a backdrop, camera center piece, gold starts to hang and a red carpet to roll out on-line for minimal cost.  At the “ticket booth” students are asked how they are going to pay for the ticket.  I quickly suggest something I see in their hands, like a backpack, folder or their shoe.  This takes about 10 minutes and provides photo opportunities for the parents.

Plan Early

A couple weeks prior to the PJs at the Movies Day, I had students work to create Bios for our Movie Star Bulletin Board.  It made a nice addition to the theme, and we could leave the bulletin up for January also.  You can find the free Bio Sheet at my TPT store.

Students wore pajamas, brought a stuffed animal, blanket and enjoyed the movie with a concession/bathroom break.  After the movie we did a Venn diagram of the book and the movie to compare them.  One student said, “This is the best day of my life!” at the end of the day.  It made all the hard work worth it!