PreK Centers in a Snap!

Jan 18, 2018

Last week I was in New Orleans working with Lafourche Parish preschool teachers. The goal of the day was numeracy, and one of the highlights was the afternoon make-and-take session, where we had five stations for teachers to visit. 

In addition to working on numeracy, we were hoping to provide high quality centers for students to go to. We really wanted to beef up the Math with a Teacher station, get some really great direct instruction going and improve how we question students. The goal of the afternoon was to help teachers have a new variety of stations that they could take and make their own.

We had so much fun with these stations that we wanted to share them with you!

Station 1: Ziploc Game Board

This idea was taken from Vanessa Levin, a dear colleague who really specializes in PreK education. You can find her original post here: https://www.pre-kpages.com/ziploc-quilt-math-game/

In this station, teachers created a portable game board out of 12 Ziploc bags and some fun duct tape. The bags were arranged in a 3 x 4 square and in such a way so that the bags opened in the back. Then, the teachers used the tape to create seams or a border between the bags.

Because you can open the bags in the back, you can put in different cards depending on the needs of your class or a particular student. One of the things we talked about that afternoon was putting Deck O’ Dots cards in each square and having students use a fly swatter to swat all of a certain quantity as fast as they can. Maybe students would have to swat different combinations of 10. There are so many options with this Ziploc game board! You could use it for number recognition, for 3 or 4 in a row, rolling games, letters and sounds, even sight words…the possibilities are endless!

Station 2: Rekenrek

Each teacher was able to make five rekenreks to use in their classroom. In PreK, we often only build the first row of the rekenrek instead of two rows because students need a lot more help decomposing and breaking down numbers 1-10 instead of 1-20. If you find yourself in the same situation, you can always create the rekenrek with the first row on top, and leave room to add the second row for the students that need it or as your class progresses.

Not sure what a rekenrek is? Start here: https://sis4teachers.org/2015/11/what-the-heck-is-a-rekenrek/

This post also includes step-by-step instructions for making your own rekenrek!

Station 3: Mini Eraser Games

In this station, we did lots of different graphing activities with mini erasers from Party City or even the $1 bins at Target. We used frogs and stars for this day.

Sometimes you want an independent station set up for your PreK students instead of a teacher-directed station, like both the Ziploc bag station or the rekenrek station would be. This would allow PreK students to work independently sorting the erasers by color or shape or other characteristics, and count how many they have of each.

You can purchase a bundle of mini eraser activities as a download from Vanessa Levin: https://www.pre-kpages.com/mini-eraser-math-activities-preschool/

Station 4: Unifix Creation Station

The idea for this station came from a book I love: Developing Number Concepts by Kathy Richardson.

Students use unifix cubes to create 3-dimensional objects like a tree, a bridge, a pig or a giraffe. This is a great station for students to experience using and connecting the unifix cubes for fine motor practice, but also for counting and comparison. Student can count how many cubes it takes to create a giraffe vs a pig, for example. There is a lot of spatial recognition exercised in this station as students have to look on the card and recreate the shape in front of them. It’s a great independent station for PreK students while you work on numeracy with another small group.

You can find Kathy’s work on http://www.didax.com/developing-number-concepts-by-kathy-richardson where you can actually buy a kit with laminated cards and everything you need to run this, and many other age-appropriate stations in your classroom.

Station 5: Collecting Data

This idea also came from Vanessa Levin at PreK Pages, and she calls it “Question of the Week” or “Question of the Day.”

The idea is that students are answering questions to collect data as a whole class. For example, a student might walk around with a clipboard and ask all his classmates, “How many pockets are you wearing?” or “What is your favorite ice cream?” or “If you had to go outside, would you rather ride your bike or rollerblade?”

What is your favorite PreK station? Share it in the comments!

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