It's Fall Y'all - Math Centers for the Fall

It's officially Fall as of 10:29 last night! It's that time to enjoy some football, roast hot dogs, and carve pumpkins. It's my husband's favorite time of the year because he loves the crisp, cool air. I'm already complaining how cold it is and it's just started to get in the 60s; I much prefer to be warm and toasty :) Check out out this cute pullover with my logo on it that my husband got me. I'll definitely be wearing it this Fall. He snuck on my computer, got my logo, and surprised me with this! LOVE it!!

Anyway, as you know I still love teaching with some fun themed games that are still common core aligned. Since it's still early on, we are still learning about numbers and one to one correspondence. This game below can be played as a memory or matching game to work on those skills. Use just the number and picture cards or make it more advanced by adding in the number words. I show my students how to use our math focus wall to find the correct number word if they can't read them yet. 

My students love this game, even though it's so simple. They count the pumpkins, clip the clothespin on the correct number, then flip the card over to check if they got it right. I put a dot on the back of the card on the correct answer to make this a self-checking game. I think they just like using the clothespins. :)

The game below works on counting, 10 frames, numbers, and number words. I make this into a file folder game, but you could just have students match the cards up on the floor or play memory. My students like to turn everything into a memory game! You can find this game FREE in my TPT store.

Here's a super simple game made using the die cutting machine at my school. I just cut out the leaves, put some numbers and dots on, then cut them in half using different cutting techniques. This is yet another self-checking game that took no time to make.

You can find these games and more in my Fall packet which includes games for Science, Reading, and Math. 

How to Set Up Literacy Centers

Starting centers at the beginning of the year can always be a nightmare, especially in Kindergarten! We practice working in small groups with very simple activities for awhile, before I actually introduce my center rotation chart. I want students to be able to work together, learn how to stay in one spot, and use appropriate voice levels during center time, before I begin to really implement centers the way I want them to run. 

When it is time to officially start centers, I keep all of my reading center materials and chart in one spot. I have 2 focus walls in my classroom: reading & math. Reading is on one side of the room, and math is the opposite side. This makes it easy for students to know what we are learning, by which wall & side of the room we are facing. I keep my reading centers activities by the reading wall, and the math centers by the math wall. This makes it a lot easier for Kindergarteners.

Keep your center groups small!!! Doing this will help keep students be more focused and quieter. I try to keep groups to 3 students. Depending on my class size, some groups may have 4. I give each group a leader (first name on the center chart) to help answer questions about the center activities, keep noise level appropriate, and get/put away the center tub. Having a leader saves you from hearing all the arguing about who didn't clean up or who gets to go get the tub. 

In the picture above, I have my student names on the left and the 2 centers they go to that day next to their names. I use number cards instead of center names. On the front of my center tubs (pictured below) are the same numbers cards that are on the chart. I also color coordinate the tubs to the table they'll go to. K.I.S.S methon (Keep ISimple Stupid) :)  The number 1 is pink, so they go to the table with the big pink pom pom above it. For the places that don't have a table (library, wipe-off boards, technology) I take a picture of that area & put it onto the number card on the chart. It's hard to see but #8 as a computer in the bottom corner, #7 has a picture of my library. I used to have big open tubs for my activities and they were always so messy! Now everything the students need is in this tub and they stack nicely. I got these tubs at Wal-mart for around $3 I think. I use the same tubs and same center set-up for math. 

Getting centers ready can be very time consuming. I only change a few of the activities out after I feel like students have gotten enough practice with them. I also let my students choose 1 activity (if they want) from each container that they want to keep in there a bit longer. I have a few permanent centers that I never have to worry about: wipe off boards, library, & computers/iPad. I made these wipe-off boards from shower board at Lowes. They cut it down for me to 12x12 boards for FREE b/c I was a teacher! I then added duct tape to make it pretty and protect students from the possible sharp edges.

Here are a few center rotation cards that I have used in the past. The cards below come from my  Reading & Math Center bundle. These cards are editable so you can add your own text.
Theses Literacy Center cards are a bit more specific and include 24 different cards. You can edit these as well. 

My Classroom Reveal 2014

As you know by now, I love bright colors, polka dots, and organizing! I thought I'd share with you how my room is set up  so that everything has a spot and is easy to find. My students learn really quick that Mrs. Lynch likes a clean room. :) Even 5 year olds can be responsible and organized if you are willing to teach them.

Get Yourself Organized

This Summer I organized all of my reading and math games, worksheets, and files into containers by skill. This will make is SO much easier to find what I need instead of digging through monthly files trying to find a rhyming game. I also organized all of my craft & office supplies too. The tubs all came from Target during back to school season. The medium tubs are 2/$5.99 and the small tubs are 5/$5.99.

I got rid of my teacher desk and was amazed at home much bigger my room looked! I hardly ever sat at my desk b/c my computer was at a technology table for students to use too. I can sort papers, cut laminating, write notes, etc. at my reading table & have it serve as a desk and small group reading table. I go these containers at Dollar Tree for $1!!!

Get Your Students Organized

Right when my students come in, they put their folder into the correct basket and get out any notes/money they need to turn in. This makes them responsible and save me time from having to check folders. Isn't the tablecloth adorable, another Target find!

All of my students have a number in the classroom. This saves me time each year, because I don't have to re-label everything. Each number has a color too. (EX: #1 is pink, #2 is blue) I use the numbers and colors on supply boxes, mailboxes, cubbies, clip chart clothespins, lunch choice clothespins, line order, etc. I add a construction paper to the bottom of their mailbox slot (probably should laminate & hot glue it on) and write their student number on the binder clip.

All of my tables have a bright colored pom poms hanging over them. This makes it easy for me to say "green table line up" or "the blue table is the quietest". Students keep their reading, math, and writing notebooks and folders in these 3 cart drawers. The labels correspond to their table color, so they know where to find their materials. I also have a table leader get all of the supplies out of the drawers.

Each table has a supply basket that holds individual student supply boxes. This helps keep germs aways and students don't fight over the supplies anymore. I haven't yet, but will label the top of the box with a sticker with their student number, so they can see which box is theirs. Each basket has a colored "supplies" label that corresponds to their table color. When students get new seats, they will just take their supply box with them to the new table.

Avoid interruptions about broken pencils, by having a place for students to put the broken pencils and pick out a new one. My students don't sharpen pencils and I don't either during the day. Before or after school I check the cups to see if any need sharpened for the next day. These cups were found in the dollar aisle at Target.

Another way to help students stay organized, is to label the toy containers. My students always clean up their mess and know exactly where everything belongs. Visuals are great for kids of all ages!

More Classroom Tips

Having an interactive word wall makes students learn words and alphabetical order quicker. I never get the "how do you spell ____" question. My students know that I will just direct them to the word wall. My kindergarteners are able to use the word wall very well. They put the words back under the correct letter, they start to become more independent spellers, and learn how to use resources around the room. I simply used ribbon and paper clips to make my word wall. These word wall labels can be found in my Polka Dot Theme Classroom MEGA Bundle which includes some editable files along with many many more resources. 

One of the favorite places for my students to go is the writing center. I think this is because I provide so many fun things at the writing center that they don't get to use during typical writing time. I have crayons, markers, colored pencils, construction paper, writing paper, copy paper, "how to draw" books from Usborne Books, kid dictionary, stencils, stickers, etc.

For my job helper board, I put numbers on popsicle sticks and put them in library pockets. This makes it easy to change their jobs in and out. 
I use pictures of the students for my birthday board. Each kid holds a cake with the number of their birthday on it. This make it more personal for students and gives them a visual of who's birthday month it is.
For student transportation, I use ribbon and clothespins. If students change their transportation for the day, I just easily move their clothespin to the correct ribbon. I also attach there note from their parent to the clothespin in case I'm pulled out the room for some reason, a sub will see the note right by the door.