The Back to School season is such an exciting time! New classroom setups, new students, a fresh start, and another chance to make a difference in our students’ outlook on education (and of course new math centers and games). Every year I reflect on what went well and what didn’t go so well in my classroom, and I can say with certainty that games during our math block have been a highlight of success in my classroom over the past few years.
Call me crazy, but I believe that even our youngest learners can start the year working together and building a love for math – albeit after you practicing lining up for the 100th time!
One of my favorite things about using math games as my centers is the community that it builds. My students have the chance to use math terms in their own words as they chat while playing, they learn how to work together and solve conflicts with peers, and they learn how to support each other! Y’all if I can pull out a math game and hear a resounding “yessssss” from my students, I am winning as a teacher. Isn’t one of our duties as educators to help our students find joy in learning?
And let’s be honest for a moment… Any opportunity to throw in erasers from the Dollar Spot is a chance to add in some seasonal flair (and they’re just freaking adorable).
So what do math games look like in my Kindergarten classroom at the beginning of the year? Here’s a peak at the types of games that we play and the skills these games work on.
Rainbow Racer is a game where students play again each other or cooperatively to measure various images using non-standard units. In addition to building understanding of length and measurement this game reinforces one-to-one correspondence when counting and the basic idea of addition as students race to get 20 rainbows first.
Superstar Subitizing practices recognizing groups of objects instantly. This game goes hand in hand with using some form of quick look dot cards during calendar time. What’s better? It’s differentiated to allow students who need a challenge the chance to use a different playing card with higher numbers AND roll two dice that must be added together – subtizing and addition in one game!
Happy Apples builds important foundational counting skills. As students spin the spinner they must identify the number shown and add that many apples to the tree. Students begin to understand that higher numbers help them fill the tree faster (again, introducing that idea of addition).
More or Less War is all about comparing numbers (numeral and pictures). But there’s a twist! Instead of the greater number always winning, the students flip their cards and then spin a spinner that will determine if the number that is more or less is the winner.
Pencil Pick Up uses 5 frames to help students start instantly recognizing (subitizing) numbers 1-5 as well as reinforcing the concept that a number can be shown in different ways. Be careful not to roll a 6 or you’ll have to put a 5 frame back!
What Comes Next? allows students the chance to identify and build patterns. Now, don’t get me started on the fact that neither the TEKS nor CCSS list teaching patterns in Kindergarten – that is a whole other blog post! Take my word for it that teaching patterns builds invaluable foundational math understanding, and we should be going beyond the standards to teach patterns in Kindergarten!
I’m so excited to break these games out during the BTS season! Want your own copy of them? [Click here] or click the image below to grab yours today!