My last blog post focused on the calendar that I have been using in kindergarten. This week, I want to focus on what students are doing during our math center time. I am running a two-center a-day rotation, making it possible for me to work with two groups of six students for 13 minutes each. This is a structure that is great for working with a classroom of 23 students. I am able to see each group every other day and have time for a whole group activity that is run on Friday. Of course, the obvious question is: “What are the rest of the kids doing while I work with my small groups?” Let me share with you.
I have four groups running simultaneously. While I work with one group, I have three independent groups working without an aide or parent help. Yes, it can be done! I am not saying that getting the kiddos to work independently was easy or that it happened overnight. It was a slow process that required a lot of patience and willingness to put some academic work on hold while routines were worked on. Thankfully, the current center layout is now up and running in the class.
When planning, I wanted to keep my centers working around the 5 domains that are given in the Common Core kindergarten domains. Kindergarten domains are Counting and Cardinality, Operations and Algebraic Thinking, Number and Operations in Base Ten, Measurement and Data, and Geometry. For this post I will focus on Measurement and Data. In later posts, I will share how other centers focus on the remaining four domains.
The Measurement and Data Center that the students are working on is simply called our Measuring Center. So what do the students do during this time? They measure, count, record, compare, and explore. Ultimately, I want students to count over and over again. I want them to know that things can be counted, and that by counting we can compare objects. I first introduced this center as a whole group activity. I gave the students teddy bear counters and Unifix cubes and told them to explore the classroom. Some students measured their shoes, chair legs, objects in their tool boxes, and even the books they had in the classroom. There was no recording done at this time, just exploring and seeing that the room was full of real objects that they could measure. I have also brought in apples, apple baskets, small hay bales, pumpkins, paper vines, leaves, books, and much more. The possibilities to measure are endless!
The best feature of this center is how much the kids love it. They are so excited to know what they get to measure next. The students have a purpose for their counting and their measuring. They have a goal and that goal is met by counting. By now, students are also recording what they are measuring by drawing the object and writing in how many Unifix cubes they needed to measure the objects. I limit the amount of items they measure to three. At first, most of the objects were small and within ten cubes. I am just now making the objects a little longer.
By designing my four centers around the Common Core domains I am able to focus on math concepts that are many times not covered until the end of the school year. These domains all have an element of counting that is so important in the development of number concepts and give students a purpose for counting. They get to explore their world and explore that world by counting! In what ways do students practice measuring in your classroom?