KinderGals: Managing Math Centers

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Monday, April 16, 2012

Managing Math Centers

When it comes to math centers, most teachers have PLENTY of ideas. BUT, managing all of those centers often is a different story! There is always another idea book, a picture on pinterest, or a product on teacherspayteaches. Such great ideas! Then we try it and say, never again! The fabulous idea just didn't translate once you involved children! It often isn't the activity, it's the management of the activity that cause stress to both us and the kids! This post shares how Megan and I manage our centers.
Developing Groups
First, we develop our groups. We put our kids into groups that we call "families". A family includes a group of heterogeneous kids, all personalities, a mixture of boys and girls. We are trying to establish a group of kids that will work together, not play together. It is best to not put "friends" in the same group! We want 5 families.
Developing Center Areas
Then, we divide our room into 5 work zones. Each zone is clearly marked with a tag. This lets the children know the location of each work zone or center area. In Megan's room, she uses a jungle theme. Each of the 5 signs is a different jungle animal.
Management Board
The management board contains the 5 jungle animals and blue cards that list each family. When it is time to go to math centers, the children located their name, look to see which animal is above their name, locate that sign in the room, and move to that center. Each day, we move the groups to the next area. By Friday, they have been to all 5 areas.
Center Storage
In each center that is a "have-to" center.  These are stored in plastic shoe box tubs on a small shelf. There are two sets in this picture. The green tubs are for math and the yellow tubs are for literacy. These items change each week.
There are also "can do" centers. Instead of children rotation to another center area when they finish the "have-to" cdenter, the children stay in the same area the entire math block. Once they finish their "have-to" center, they look in the storage unit in their area to find a "can-do" activity. These can be games, puzzles, anything math related. I change these about once a month. I have 5 of these storage units, one in each area.
I'm Done!
Since we have "can-do" centers for early finishers, we never hear "I'm done."  Our have to centers are product based.
Another have to center....
When they finish their have to centers, they place the work in this yellow tray. No bringing it to use as we are pulling our small groups. We can check the work at another time.
I hope this post helps give you some ideas on managing math centers.

 
 
 





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26 comments:

Lisa G. said...

You are so very organized...a must for kindergarten :) Just started my own blog since I love everything I've seen out in blogland! www.forestfriendsink.blogspot.com

Sarah Paul said...

This is so helpful! I need to change it up for next year and I love how you organize your math groups.
Sarah
Sarah's First Grade Snippets

Tonia said...

I love your great organization. What advice would you give for doing math groups with 32 kids? I tried this year, but really struggled with the management. I am thinking about 6 or 7 groups instead of partners. love to hear your thoughts.
Tonia
Tvento1313@msn.com
Mrsvento.blogspot

Mrs. Anderson said...

Hi Kim, I really like your idea about dividing your classroom into work zones. I love the work zone sign stand as well. My kids tend to gather in one area even though they have lots of room to spread out. I also like how you call each group a "family."
Thanks for sharing! You are AWESOME!!!
Connie
welcometofirstgraderoom5.blogspot.com

Elisabeth said...

Thanks for sharing! Right now my kids are grouped into ability level partners and they rotate through 8-10 different stations throughout the 2 weeks we do them. It can get really crazy to manage so I'm thinking next year I'll have a total of 5 groups. I need to get over the fear of having 4-5 kids working together and actually getting their work done. Thanks for the inspiration! :)

Tales of An Elementary Teacher

Kelly said...

I really like the can-do and must-do options for math centers. I have lots of activities to use with pattern blocks, etc. but never seem to be able to fit them into the day. Can-do centers would be perfect for this. Thanks for the management ideas!

Kelly
Kindergarten Kel

Anjanette said...

Thanks for great ideas. I would love it if you posted any ideas you have for half day K teachers that you might pick up on your travels. With all the new requirements, it is hard to work in free choose time when you are only half day.

Jackie said...

Thanks for the great ideas. I do my centers somewhat like yours. How many activities do they do at the center?

Kim Crowe said...

Thanks so much for the great ideas. I teach half day kinder and have 36 kids in each session. I have 9 groups with 4 in each group. Each group gets a tub of centers. In each tub there are 6-7 center choices. They have enough time to get 2-3 centers done each day we are able to do centers which, with half day, is only about once a week. This time of year the children are very independent which allows me to do a small group or assessments.

Sprinkle Teaching Magic (Sheila) said...

This looks like it allows for smooth transitions and for students to really work independently and take charge of their learning. I also really like how choice is built in. Students are far more engaged when they have some control of the learning they are participating in.

Love it! Great ideas as usual!

Sheila

Sprinkle Teaching Magic

Ke'Andra said...

Love your idea! I can't wait to implement it next year. I struggle with managing centers.

School Sparks Renee said...

These work stations are a great idea. I like your "families" of kids that work well together. It's nice to have a mix of abilities, as children can help each other sometimes, especially when you don't want to get interrupted. The graphics (zoo animals) are precious. Do these stay the same all year or do you change them up to match themes? Thanks for the great pictures and ideas. Renee

Megan said...

Hi Kim! Thanks for sharing- I love all of your classroom organization ideas! Where did Megan get her cute carpet bags? Is there somewhere online where I could order those? It looks like they have jungle animals on them. I have a monkey theme in my classroom and those look so cute! I'm having such a hard time finding good-quality bags that are also reasonably-priced to use for my kids' carpet bags.

www.kindermonkeys.blogspot.com

Jane said...

This was so helpful. I love how you explained everything and included pictures. I know I need try this and will definitely use your ideas. Thanks so much for sharing!

Miss Lawren Christianson said...

Hi, Thank you so much for sharing, your ideas are very helpful! I was wondering where you got the zoo animal labels? They would be perfect for my jungle theme. Thank you again.

Kim and Megan said...

Hey Lisa! I'm going to check out your blog! You are going to love being part of the blogging community! So many great teachers!

Kim and Megan said...

Tonia! Myfriend has 34 first graders and she runs the centers like I do. Give it a try and let us know how it works with that many kiddos! :)

Kim and Megan said...

Anjanette, Many half day teachers feels the same stress. I'll start posting the things they share for sure!

Kim and Megan said...

Jackie, There is one have to and then 3-4 can do's that they choose from once they finish the have to.

Kim and Megan said...

KIM!!!!! That means thay you teach 72 children? Oh my word! I think that is the most I have ever heard of!

Kim and Megan said...

Renee, We keep the same symbols all year.

Kim and Megan said...

Megan,
I got Megan her bags at Target in the dollar spot. They have had things several times during the year with the jungle theme. I would watch there.

Kim and Megan said...

Megan, I got Megan her bags at the Target Dollar Spot.

Kim and Megan said...

Here is the link for the clip art Megan uses for her math centers.
http://digiwebstudio.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=2089

Kayla Heyboer said...

Your blog/posts are always so inspirational! I am not the most organized teacher, so I love these kinds of posts. ;) I am new to blogging, but have been visiting yours (as well as your website) for a LONG time! I first saw you at a Kindergarten conference in Franklin, TN 3 years ago, and have been a huge fan ever since! I have incorporated so much of your ideas into my daily routines at school - my students and myself thank you. :)

http://www.teachingwithskillpatiencelaughter.blogspot.com/

Jessica said...

Love it! I am your newest follower:) Stop by and visit me...

learnplayandhavefun.blogspot.com

 
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