Saturday, August 4, 2012

Differentiated Math Stations For The Beginning of The Year and A Couple Of Freebies!

One of my dear teacher reader friends, Sherry, recently wrote to me and asked me if I could put together an example of my math stations for the beginning of the year.  I know I did a complete example of this in the spring when my students where already well acquainted with the Math Station routine and well after I had the opportunity to assess their readiness in the standards we were covering . . . but the beginning of the year is a completely different bird.

One of the three guiding principles of differentiated instruction is that assessment and instruction go hand in hand, but when those sweet little kindergarten cherubs waltz through the door those first few days, we really don't have ANY clue what their readiness is or isn't. 

On top of that, they still need to learn routines and rules and expectations!  YIKES!  It really easy a great deal for a little one to pick up but  here's the good news . . . they pick it up rather quickly. 

But what do you do in the meantime?  For me, I make stations that are exploratory in nature (we all know if you don't give them a chance to play with the materials before hand they're gonna play with the materials the entire time they're suppose to be working) so that they can familiarize themselves with different math materials and manipulatives and also develop stations that will give me a very quick picture of what they know in regards to initial standards that I will be covering in the first weeks of school.

And . . . I try to cover many of the different multiple intelligences during this time as well.  What I don't hit in one area like math stations, I try to pick up in learning centers.  My regular math stations usually last for three weeks with students going through each station twice before I change or add to them, but this first set will last only two weeks at the most because, I like to do them everyday and for a shorter amount of time than usual.  Once they are complete, I will have a good understanding of where each child is and will be able to start tiering my instruction. 

So here is my planning template . . .    There are nine stations (only 6 are being used at any given time). And room to record three different tiers as well as indicate the activity and common core to which it aligns. 

You remember this is how I store them right?  All the tiered materials in the same drawer.

Ok, so here we go . . . an example of a possible first set of math stations I've tried to include pictures of everything.  So if you have any questions or need more information about a particular activity . . . JUST CLICK ON THE PICTURE. . . .

1. Play-doh numbers . . . This is going to appeal to your kinesthetic learners and, let's face it, every kindergartener loves play-doh.  These fabulous little play-doh mats are free to you from Make Take Teach and I suggest you  grab them up.  (Just click on the picture for the link.) They have them all the way to 20 but I start out with 1-10.  I usually place them face down and tell the kiddos they have to pick the one on top.  Tell their partner the number and then make the number and that many pieces of whatever the picture is with play-doh.  As you're gonna here things like, that's not 7 or this is easy it's 8 (that's you cue to stop and engage and take some quick assessment notes).

2.  Number order linky.  I have a freebie for you here just click on the pictures or HERE.  These cards represent numbers 1-30.  I print these off, laminate and hole punch them.  Then students use linking cards to link them together in order.  You could also use a clothes line or have them put them in a pocket chart but I like the links because it's another opportunity for fine motor work.  I would start out with 1-10 numbers.  You can have the other's on hand for students who finish and need more.  But remember, you're still in the assessment stage (Lets get real, we're always in the assessment stage!).

3.  Sorting cars . . .tell them they can play with them for a bit AFTER they talk to you about how they sorted their cars.  You can find out if they can count one to one with this activity and also if they can sort by more than one attribute.  You can also throw in patterning although that's not a kindergarten standard (I still like to do it).  You can get the "I can " poster by clicking on the picture.

4. Pokey pin shapes!  I love these things.  Mrs. Miner's Monkey's presents these wonderful, engaging activities that are GREAT for fine motor and reinforce basic skills such as shapes.  Best of all ----INDEPENDENT!!!! All you need is a push pin and you're ready to go.  (Click on the picture to find out more about these great little activities.)

5. Hot Rod Tens Frame - Self-correcting and independent.  Students can use the car cards that come with activity (in case you don't have any toy cars. Myself, with 3 boys, I always have cars.) or use toy cars.  There is a number showing and once they have counted that number onto their 10s frame, they remove the clothes pin to see if they did it correctly.  I love INDEPENDENT and this one fits the bill.

6.  Geoboard numbers.  Another great visual, kinesthetic activity.  Get the downloadable geoboard cards from Marking Learning Fun website for FREE. Just click on the picture.

7. I Spy Speeding Numbers - They spy the numbers on the sheet and match it up to the tens frame.  It's a way to introduce them to I-spy's which they love, love, love.   They love to figure out where all the numbers are and it's tiered so you as soon as their you see a kiddo that needs a little more challenge, they can have the same kind of activity at their level. (Click on the pic for more information).

8. Race Around The Room... This is a tiered activity, but to start out with, I would only use one level and the very first tiered activity.  If a student finished early, you have the other activity available for them to complete.  And you have a really good idea of where they are at counting objects and their letter formation. This is a classroom favorite because kids get to move around and look for the cards.  It's also a good one to teach them the rooms and routines for 'write the room' activities. 

9.  Stamping number stations.  I like these stations from Krissy Miner.   Krissy has really great independent activities that I can tier easily and the kids LOVE them. 
Ok, so those are an example of some stations for the first two weeks of school.  Of course, you could change any of these out with a math songs cds for one station, math books at another or whatever you think you (and your kiddos can handle).  

Thanks for making me plan them so early.  I have a whole month before school starts.  Remember that when you start these out there won't be much tiering but you can have your materials available so that if needed, you can students the next tier of I-Spy or Stamping or whatever it is.  Be ready to carry around a clipboard (my tool of choice and make notes and check off where your little cherubs are in terms of readiness so that you can (as quickly as teacherly possible) start tiering.  I'll be back in a couple of weeks and give you an example of how that might look too. Until then, a few suggestions for those first several days of math stations when you are ready to pull your hair out . . . remember to MODEL, MODEL, MODEL the activities they will do.  Don't get to bent out of shape if things are completed EXACTLY as instructed.  Stop the activity and use it as a teachable moment. 

Also, start right away, showing students how to take and get materials on their own.  I assign a materials handler for each group.  That is the ONLY person who gets, takes out, hands out and returns materials. 

Any questions?  Please don't be afraid to drop me a line.


  1. This is a great post! Thanks so much for sharing all these great ideas and resources.
    Ms. Kerri and her Krazy Kindergarten

  2. Thank you for the how to! Sadly, I couldn't get the number linky link to work. Everything else came through wonderful. I've been trying to figure out how to manage the math centers, I love the planning page!

  3. I am on the road people but I wanted to remind you that google now has google drive which you may have to upgrade to in order to get my number linky freebie. Try it! If you still can't get it (btw I tried the link and it's there and working) of course contact me and I would be happy to get it to you!

    1. Thanks for the information! I will check that out but it worked today! lol.

  4. Thank you so much for the great math station post!! It has been a huge help. I love the freebies. The number linky link took me to the document but it only had numbers 11-20 and then it just had random numbers all by themselves all over the second and third pages. Again, thank you so much for all of your wonderful information and I love your blog!!

  5. Thank you so much! I am going to begin stations this year in my class and this information is so timely for me. Thank you for sharing all of this!

  6. You are a life saver! This is an amazing post. I didn't start math stations until October last year but now I"m ready to start the first week!!! Thanks.

  7. Marsha!!! I love this!!! I have made some of your math work stations for the end of the year but needed the begining of year!!! I just finished my first week back to school and these will be perfect!!!!

  8. Thank you so much for this wonderful post! It is so helpful to see how you plan your math stations at the beginning of the year. I love your planning form for math stations. Would you be willing to share it? Do you plan the same way for literacy stations?
    Michelle Atkins

  9. Wow! This is great! I have a hard time getting math stations started and in and this seems so easy to start with! I have just recently discovered your blog, do you have a post similar for literacy? I would love to hear how you do that!

  10. Thank you soooo much for all of this great info! I love coming to your blog for ideas & inspiration!!
    Jen's Kinder Kids

  11. I love your math station lesson plan. Would you mind sharing this. I would love to purchase it from TpT. You have cut all the planning and guesswork out of it.


    ✿ Stacy
    Land of Aha-Z!

  12. Alot of you have asked for my planning template. Give me a couple of days and I'll get one out for you. Love hearing that you can use this information.

  13. This is great and very helpful! Thank you!

    Lovin’ Kindergarten

  14. great ideas Marsha!! I haven't even began to think about math tub ideas (AAHHHH!!!)))) IN Texas, patterning and sorting is still a part of our TEKS so we usually start with that!

    Kindergarten Lifestyle

  15. Hi There, love your detailed post! Wow! You have some really great hands-on activities! I need more ink!!! I am you newest follower!
    Chris Kazanjian
    The Kinder"garden" Teacher

  16. Marsha, I'm going to try your number order linky idea! I've never seen this before, but you're right that it's great fine motor and mathematics practice. Have you seen the numeral and shape roads on Making Learning Fun ( I added "stop" and "go" traffic lights to them so that the children would know where to start their car and where to pick them up off the paper. That's available for free in my blog post:


    Sharon Dudley, NBCT

  17. What a great post! I am loving all these centers! Now, I just have to be able to get in my classroom so I can get it organized! Thank you for sharing all this great info! :)
    Crayons and Curls

  18. Love, Love, Love this post...My children will love all these "Hands on will my Principal..hehehe We are suppose to be moving toward "green" no ditto teaching..EEEEKKK!
    THis will help to kick start me:)
    If you do share the planning template I would love it too.
    Do you do something similar for Reading Centers?

  19. this post! Thanks for all the information. I'm now a follower:)

  20. I LOVE THIS! I would love to see your lesson plan format template! Thanks for sharing!

  21. Love all the info! I am adjusting to a new schedule that seems to cut down on math time and increase in literacy, but I still think these math stations will be perfect! I would also definitely use your planning sheet! Thanks for the great post!

  22. Wow!!! Thanks so much, what a great post!

  23. As usual, a very insightful post from you guys.


  24. Thank you very much for your ideas. You are awesome!

  25. You are an absolute doll, and I can't wait to use these super helpful, informative ideas and notes for my second year in Kinder this fall :) thank you!

    Xo, Elle

  26. Thank-you so much this blog has been a huge help! I am in my second year of teaching and getting ready to teach kindergarten for the first time :D I look forward to your blog throughout the rest of the year!



  27. Thank you so much for this extremely helpful information. Do you have one similar for Language Arts? We all would really love to see it. Thanks again!

  28. How can I get the math centers lesson plan template?



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...