Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Success Implementing Math Centers Day One!

Okay, as though it isn't enough work to get centers up and running during literacy center time, you need to plan for math centers, too?  I will be honest, this is my first year doing both and I'm kind of liking it.  I started them yesterday and it went off without a hitch...students were working independently (for the most part) and, more importantly, enjoying their new centers. (Oh, yes, and I DO teach kindergarten!). 
You know that saying, "Work smarter, not harder"?  That is totally what I went by for this math center implementation. We have been working since week one on how to do literacy centers, starting small and slowly building towards more and more independence.  If you have not read about how I do my center time (and are interested), click here and here.  It is by far the easiest way I have ever tried for both me (management wise) and for the children.  I can't do the timed center thing (none of the activities EVER take the same amount of time no matter how hard I tried)...I can't keep track of which students have done what "have to"s and I definitely do not want piles of center work on my desk after a long day of teaching.  But, there are some things I DO want during center time:
  • I DO want the children to do certain activities each week ("have to"s)
  • I DO want children to have choices and be learning in ways that they enjoy
  • I DO want children to be independent learners so that I can have guided reading groups
 I have introduced my students to 8 "staple" centers which will use the same materials each week, only the concepts being reviewed or practiced will change.  My 8 staple literacy centers (only 4 are used per week, but I rotate them so that children don't get tired of them and continue to be excited to do their basket work centers)are as follows:

  • Stamping
  • Write the Room (so many ways to do this, but I LOVE Differentiated Kindergarten's choices of write the room activities)
  • I Spies
  • Scribble it Just a Little Bit (this is a new activity I've been developing over the past couple of years and the students LOVE it..stay tuned for a freebie and for more info that will tell you more about how kiddos can "draw" with scribbles as well as practice writing and/or sight words) independently

So, to make a long story short, I have basically taken the same exact concept of my Literacy Centers and created my math centers for the week. Why spend 20 more days introducing different materials and activities when they are already becoming "professionals" at the activities I mentioned above??  Here are my "staple" math centers that will rotate every two weeks:
The only two new stations that will  need explicit directions are the math surveys and roll a numbers (sooo easy, but easy to build in many different concepts as the year continues).  So, work smarter, not harder and your students will thank you for it...less for them to remember during independent work time and soooo much easier for you to manage!  And, the best part?  I already have a year's worth of the materials I need all printed off and ready to copy for each week.

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  1. This is my first year to have a Pokey Pin center for literacy. My kinders and I are both loving it! After only 4 weeks of school I can already see an increase in their neck/shoulder strenth and fine motor control. Thanks for the great activities (I bought a bundled set at the tpt teacher appreciation sale last spring). Now I guess I will have to add Math pokey pinning!

  2. I have been following your blog for some time now. You have such great posts. Well that was a VERY convincing post! I just went and bought every literacy center you had links to. I have also struggled with how to implement centers that all take different times. Just yesterday, I was explaining to my aide that I wished I had some great ideas for centers. Now, thanks to you, I have the Falling Numbers, I Spy Fall Letters, Pokey Pin Extravaganza, and the Kindergarten Stamping Letters in My Name centers. I will have to come back to check out the math ones soon too!
    Sea Bear's Kindergarten

  3. Nancy, I have lots of fine motot issues this year and that is why I added it during math time, too (although I probably should be doing it every day!). Glad it is working!
    Christina, This is the set up to have if you want stress free planning, implementation and smooth sailing! If I can help at all, let me know!

  4. Wow, these worked so well in my classroom today that I had to write a short blog post about it and give you a shout out during their recess break! Thanks sooo much!!

  5. I love all these activities!!! I also bought 5 of your sets just now (in addition to the 3 I already had). :) How do you store all the activities with cards when you aren't using it? The Write the room cards and things like that?

  6. I just bought about 5 of your packets. I would like to implement centers like you do, but I have a question about differentiation. I like the different levels that you provide in the packets, but do you actually use the different levels at the same time? I am trying to figure out the management of having different levels of the centers at the same time.

  7. You are so sweet, Christina! Thanks for the shout out!
    Jessica, I just paperclip them together and then to the recording sheet. I have a plastic drawer system (if you look at my picture post of back to school pics, you can see it) where I put all of my unit stuff. Nothing fancy, that's for sure!
    Daphne, I just put the different levels in there and my students typically gravitate to their level (with some nudging from their teacher!). If you want a more technical, assured way, A Differentiated Teacher uses different colored plastic pockets for the different levels and kids just know which pocket they are supposed to be working in! Hope that helps a bit.

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