Starting Math Centers in Kindergarten…and Not Sure What to Expect


This week, I’ve planned to spend our math block acquainting my Kindergarteners with our math centers routine that I intend to use all year.  I think I need to get acquainted with our new routine as much as they do, though!  I’m completely changing the way I typically do math centers in Kindergarten.  In years past, I had six different centers, and the children rotated through them (typically visiting about 3 centers per day).  I worked with students in small groups and individually to complete each center task.  I noticed, however, that because there were so many different activities (6 per week, though I often had repeats), the children often forgot what they were supposed to be doing at a center.  I spent too much time reteaching the centers, and the children still weren’t able to consistently use all of the centers materials correctly.

So at the end of last year, after we got some iPads to use, I decided to change it up a bit.  I grouped the students into 3 homogeneous ability groups, and designed three stations within the room:  on the carpet, with iPads; at the tables, with hands-on math activities, and at the teacher table for a small group math lesson.  This seemed to work relatively well and was easier for the kids to follow.  The noise level in the classroom was much lower, too, since the kids weren’t all grouped together at their tables.  However, what I didn’t like about this setup was that the students were never working in heterogenous groups, so struggling students couldn’t benefit from the knowledge of more proficient students.

This year, what I’m going to do to remedy this is to stick with the 3 different math stations (carpet with iPads, tables with hands-on math activities, and teacher table), but I’ve divided my students into 6 different groups.  There still is a low group (groups 1 & 2), a medium group (groups 3 & 4), and a high group (groups 5 & 6), and they still will receive differentiated instruction with me in those groups.  For example, groups 1 & 2 will always come to my teacher table at the same time.  However, when they work with the iPads and math manipulatives, I’m mixing the groups.  For example, group 2 might work with group 5 at the math manipulatives station.  

This seems like it’ll be more complicated than before, but I’m going to try it and see what happens.  I’ll be using the SmartBoard to help the students see where there are going (here’s a screenshot):

On the left hand side, in the blue, it shows the two different rotations we’ll go through each day.  In rotation one, for example, groups 4 & 6 will be on the carpet.  Then, in rotation two, group 6 will be at the tables and group 4 will be at my teacher table.  On the right hand side, in the green, I will put a picture/description of what the students will be doing on the rug (screenshots of apps) and at the tables (pictures of math materials).  

I really like the idea of just 3 stations, differentiated math instruction, and heterogeneous grouping for other activities…let’s just hope it pans out in practice.  I’ll have the kids wear nametags with their group numbers for the first week or two, until they get used to the procedures.  At first, I’m going to keep it super simple – playing with blocks, making numbers out of playdough (grab the playdough number mats HERE for free), etc.  I definitely won’t teach a small group at the teacher table; I’ll be up walking around and helping the kids.  After a few days, I’ll teach the kids how to problem-solve independently and try to just WATCH them work at their centers, asking one another for help as they need it.  Ultimately, I’ll be teaching a small group and hopefully they will be used to working without asking me for help every 2 seconds.  We’ll see how this goes tomorrow!!

To keep up with these and other classroom activities, follow me here on Instagram.  If you’re in need of math centers activities, here are a few different options I have available in my TpT store:

Geometry Pack.001

Kindergarten Fall Math Centers Pack.001

Kinder Halloween Math Centers.001

Valentine's Day Math Centers for K-1.001

Teen Number Board Games for Winter.001

Kindergarten Winter Math Centers PREVIEW.001

Kindergarten Spring Math Centers.001


Happy teaching!


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I’m Alison, a literacy specialist. I love getting kids excited about reading and writing – and sharing teaching ideas with other teachers!

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