Sunday, October 27, 2013

What we do during Math Centers

Every day we have math for 45 minutes (in addition to 15 minutes of calendar math in the morning). I am very lucky to have one assistant teacher and two high school tutors during this time, so we can easily break the kindergarteners up into four groups and have four teacher-led centers! Of course, the activities are very hands-on and the student mostly direct themselves. But the grown-ups are there to teach them the new game and emphasize important concepts, or help kids who are struggling with the task. I try to have four different types of centers each day, based on the Common Core standards and our math curriculum, Everyday Math.

1. Math Games
Math games allow the kids to develop number sense, practice counting and one-to-one correspondence, and try new skills such as measuring and graphing.
 In this game, kids roll a pumpkin dice and graph their results!
 In this game, kids spin a spinner, count the number of apples, and make that amount using cubes on the side.

2. Math Fact Practice
Fact fluency is very important for kindergarteners. By the end of kindergarten, they need to be comfortable adding and subtracting within 5 automatically, as well as able to use objects, drawings, equations, and their fingers to add and subtract within 10. So the more practice we can get, the better! Below is an example of a fact practice game.
 Kids roll two dice and add the numbers together, then find the answer on their Halloween sheet and color it in!
3. Math Manipulatives
Manipulatives are objects that kids can sort, stack and build with, to help them increase their skills at patterning, sorting and engineering. This center often seems like just free play, but is really disguised hands-on learning as well!

 Sorting coins
 Unifix cubes
 The ever-popular "wheels" as we call them (I don't actually know their official name!)
4. Math Journals
This center is with me, and is one of my favorite times to assess kids' thinking on challenging concepts. We usually do some sort of problem-solving question of the day. For example, below I gave them a piece of paper that said "Can you fill a circle using only squares?" (from this generous teacher who shared her idea on her blog). I gave each student a bunch of squares, and they all tried various ways to fill it up. In the end, we figured out that, no, you can't fill a circle with squares because the squares are too pointy! A circle doesn't have any pointy edges, so it's impossible!