Preschool Math Centers

Instructor: Melinda Santos
A useful strategy for teaching mathematical principles to preschoolers is setting up a classroom math center with rotating materials. Get some ideas on the different types of materials and projects you can include in your math center, along with some other useful teaching resources.

Shape Activities

  • Shape Bingo: Purchase a premade shape bingo game or construct your own for a quick, fun and easy shape recognition activity.
  • Shape Animals: Cut out various sizes of different shapes from construction paper and allow students to arrange the shapes to form a recognizable animal or even one of their own imagination. Provide googely eyes and glue to complete the project. You can also provide a template example for students to follow. Example - cut different sizes of hearts out of black, white and orange paper and then form a penguin using a large black heart as the body, medium white heart as the belly, small orange heart for the beak and two medium to small orange hearts for the feet. Add eyes.
  • Pattern Blocks & Mats: Provide a large tub of multi-shaped pattern blocks and various pattern block mats with geometric designs for students to match.

Pattern Activities

  • Beads: On a tray, provide two or three bowls of colored pony beads and a few pieces of pipe cleaner. Instruct students to create a pattern with the different colors by threading the beads onto the pipe cleaner in a particular order that is continually repeated.
  • Math Manipulatives: Distribute any type of math manipulative, such as Unfix cubes, bear or bug counters, shaped buttons or even pompoms in a container on a tray, along with a gridded pattern card. Allow students to create patterns using the given items.

Sizing Activities

  • Cookie Cutters: Locate various shaped cookie cutters that nest inside one another (i.e. a large heart cookie cutter that has several smaller hearts nested inside). Give students instructions to arrange the shapes in order from smallest to largest or vice versa. Then have them put them all shapes back inside the largest piece.
  • Building Blocks: Have students build towers or building of various heights, including a tall building and short building or two structures that are the same size.

Counting and Numbers Activities

  • Sticker Mats: Offer a cutout of a character, shape or item with the numbers 1-6 scattered throughout it. Provide a strip of stickers and dice with the numbers 1-6. Have the student roll the dice and place a sticker on the number it lands on.
  • Watermelon Pieces: Cut out triangle slices of watermelon out of construction paper or from a printout. Number each piece 1-6. Along with the watermelon slices, provide a container of black seeds or pompoms and have the student place the corresponding number of beads or pompoms on each slice.

Other Math Activities and Teaching Ideas offers an assortment of resources for teaching math principles to preschoolers. Some useful courses and guides include:

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