Math Center

Managing Centers in Preschool

Let's set the scene for a moment... you just set up an epic pumpkin patch in your dramatic play center. It is complete with pumpkins (uh, I'd hope so), a wheelbarrow, leaves and rakes, a scarecrow, and...yes you get it- the center is AH-MAZING!

So, what do all your children do when they arrive? They race to your homemade Pumpkin Patch! All 10 of them, in unison! You think, 'Oh, how nice this will be- the whole class playing together!' Then, reality sets in and all you hear is "No, I want to be the cashier!" and "Teacher, he just took my pumpkin!" and "OWW! Billy just hit me with the rake!" So much for playing together...

The problem was there was too many kids in one area of the classroom. They couldn't play freely, they couldn't talk out what roles they were going to play because there was just too many of them!

One thing to know about my classroom is that we are play-based. I never force students to go to certain centers, they are allowed to choose where they want to work and whom they might want to work with. That being said, the morning of the Pumpkin Patch they ALL happened to want to choose the Drama Center (of course they did- it is epic after all!).

So, I had to come up with a solution that did not involve micro-managing their choices. So, here it is folks- the moment you've been waiting for... Wait, I am pretty sure this idea has been out there awhile, but it is working for me- so maybe it will work for you?

Limit the number of kiddos in each center! I might have built this up a little too much...please accept my apology. BUT, it is working...really well!

See those signs with numbers on them in the pics above? Yep, those are my little miracle workers, baby! I have some signs that allow 4 students to be in the center (Drama and Blocks) and some that allow 2 students (all the rest of the centers) at a time. Those little silver circles under the number? Washers (make sure they are magnetic!) that I hot glued to the laminated signs.

Then, I bought some thick cardboard pieces from the craft store. I think the ones in the picture above were supposed to be chalkboard labels or something. I added a magnet to the back (buy some thick heavy duty magnets, not that stuff on a roll) and DONE!

Now, when the center is full of names, my kiddos know that they have to pick somewhere different to go until a spot opens up. I have loved the management side of it, but also it encourages some of my kiddos to try out centers they may not have tried before!

click below to get the managing center signs

Click here to subscribe


This freebie first appeared in the Take & Try Newsletter!  A bi-weekly newsletter for early educators that features free ideas you can take and try in your classroom!

Learn more info here!

Preschool Counting Games

Counting is an essential skill that preschoolers need to practice to lay a foundation for mathematical concepts down the road.  But, counting is more than just saying numbers in order out aloud.  Children need to be able to rote count (saying numbers aloud) and count with 1-1 correspondence (every item they are counting gets one number). Games that incorporate these skills are the best way for young children to learn how to rote count and count with 1-1 correspondence.  The games featured below encourage counting, numeral recognition and subitizing.  Take a look!

The best way to help a child learn to rote count and count with 1-1 correspondence is to play games! Here are some preschool counting games.
The best way to help a child learn to rote count and count with 1-1 correspondence is to play games! Here are some preschool counting games.

Balance Bear Count Game

Materials Needed: Counting Bears (or other manipulatives), balance scale and die.

Two Players - How to Play: Each player gets a bucket on the scale. Take turns rolling the die and placing that many bears in the bucket.  Now, the second player does the same.  Keep playing until one bucket is full!

Learning benefits: Subitizing using a dot die, counting with 1-1 correspondence and taking turns.

Counting game with balance scale and counting bears. Perfect for subitizing and counting with 1-1 correspondence.
Counting game with balance scale and counting bears. Perfect for subitizing and counting with 1-1 correspondence.

Counting and Numerals Game

Materials Needed: Numerals (foam or plastic) and counters (such a bears or buttons).

One Player - How to Play: Lay out the numerals in numeric order from left to right.  Student places the correct number of counters under each numeral.

Learning benefits: Recognizing numerals, counting with 1-1 correspondence and placing numbers in numeric order.

Help students recognize numerals and count with 1-1 correspondence with this fun game.
Help students recognize numerals and count with 1-1 correspondence with this fun game.

Parking Lot Game

Materials Needed: Parking Lot Gameboard, vehicle counters and numeral cards (not shown)

Teacher & Child - How to Play: Show student a numeral card (write numbers on index cards).  Students put a vehicle counter on that numeral.  Play until parking lot is full.

Learning benefits: Recognizing numerals.

The parking lot game is a numeral recognition game that is a lot of fun to play!
The parking lot game is a numeral recognition game that is a lot of fun to play!

Roll and Build Game

Materials Needed: blocks and dot die

One Player - How to Play: Roll the die and stack that many blocks on top of one another.  Roll again and place that many more blocks on top of the existing tower.  Play until the tower tumbles.

Learning benefits: Subitizing using a dot die, counting with 1-1 correspondence and fine motor skills.

Play roll and build subitizing and counting game together and see who can make the tallest tower.
Play roll and build subitizing and counting game together and see who can make the tallest tower.

Preschool Math Center

Ideas and resources for a preschool, pre-k or kindergarten math center.

Pre-K Centers

MATH CENTER MATERIALS

Pattern Blocks: Plastic or wood pattern blocks to create geometric shapes and patterns

Dice: Foam dice are perfect for keeping things safe and keeping noise down

Dominoes: Dominoes with dots are great for matching, counting and building

Cubes: Cubes that link together are great for counting, building and showing more and less

Math Center Preschool

Numerals: Magnetic or foam

Sorting Bears: Great for sorting by more than one attribute

Measuring Tape: A kid-sized heavy duty measuring tape and rulers for measuring things around the classroom

Counters: Rubber counters in any style are perfect for counting, sorting, patterning and more

MATH CENTER LABELS