Preschool Math Interest Center

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What is a Preschool Math Interest Center?

Typically it is a table that is used for other activities as well. Many times, your snack table may be used as your table for preschool math activities before snack time.

Some programs have a Math Center that is always and only a math center. Most centers have what is called a Math and Manipulatives Center or Fine Motor Table and not necessarily a separate Math Center.

The same has been true in our classroom. This page was designed to help teachers to specifically incorporate preschool math activities into their programming regardless of where the activity takes place.

What Materials Should Be In a Math Interest Learning Center?

The most common items for this center are....ANYTHING that can be counted! Your imagination will be the only limit to introducing math concepts to your preschoolers!

As with any material, keep your children's ages and your state regulations in mind when introducing items for math. Some items can be what are referred to as "chokeables". Some states specifically outline the size of items that can not be used with certain age groups.

Even if your students are "old enough" to use materials based on the regulations, you still need to keep your individual children in mind. If you have one that is still very oral and everything from their snack to their clothing to their name tag finds its way into their mouth, many math activities will need to be directly supervised in your classroom, but not avoided!

Preschool Math Activities

Placement of your preschool Math Activities center should be decided based on how much room the children will need to use the materials comfortably.

Board games such as Candyland or Hi-Ho Cherry-O may not work well on the floor where other children can walk through the game!

The floor may also not work well for counting items that could roll across the floor and cause someone else to slip on the materials. I recommend using a table for safety and for comfort!

This center tends to be quieter than perhaps your science center but not as quiet as your library area. Therefore, best placement might be on or near your Art Center where conversation and interactions are also happening and not near the more active areas such as the Block Area or Dramatic Play area.

Learn how and where to set up the different interest learning centers in your classroom here.

Looking for my
Math in the Preschool Classroom online preschool training workshop?

Click here to learn more!

What Do Children Learn In The Preschool Math Interest Center?

Activities in the Math Interest Center help children:

  • Develop small motor control and eye-hand coordination as they manipulate the materials
  • Develop one-to-one correspondence as they use board game pieces or sort and count materials.
  • Develop problem solving skills as they determine or learn rules to games and sharing materials.
  • Turn rote counting skills into counting items or sets of items
  • Identify numbers
  • Relate written numerals with actual items (learning sets)

How Do Teachers Prepare The Math Interest Learning Center?

Preparing for preschool math activities should be done in advance. Although you can simply go to your materials area, closet or storage area and pull items off the shelf that your children will enjoy, planning the concepts you want to cover with the children will help you to meet math preschool goals.

If you are working on number recognition, choose puzzles and games that use numbers; activities that require the use of number dice, etc.

If you are working on one-to-one-correspondence up to 6 this month, you don't want to choose a game that will only require the children to move their counter 3 spaces.

Although your preschoolers will typically enjoy most board games that are newly introduced, this will not help them to improve their one-to-one correspondence as you have planned.

You can also prepare your children for using these items for the goal you have planned for them by introducing the materials at circle time.

For example: You want the children to work on recognizing numbers and placing a specific number of items with its corresponding numeral. Show them the materials at circle time or morning meeting time and demonstrate how to do this.

Keep in mind that children are at different levels of cognitive knowledge. Although you have introduced counting one dinosaur into the "1" cup and four dinosaurs into the "4" cup, you will still find children using them in different ways at the preschool math activities center!

They may line them up, sort them by type or act out a prehistoric egg stealing event! Many children need to be able to freely explore materials that are introduced before using them for a specific purpose. Once they have had the chance to explore the materials in their own way, introduce the concept one on one with the child.

For example, you could try saying something like "OH NO! Here comes T-Rex! Let's get all the other dinosaurs home. Look! A number "1" house! Which dinosaur could live here? A number "2" house! Quick, let's put 2 dinosaurs in here!." Etc.

Materials To Include in Your Preschool Math Interest Center

The materials to have on-hand are limited only by your imagination! Here are some basic items that are great to have around!

Sorting and Counting Materials

Teddy bear counters, ANY type of collection such as rocks, buttons, keys, etc.; muffin tins for sorting or counting; paper cups with numbers on them for counting items; beads and strings.

Board Games

Provide age appropriate board games keeping in mind your goals for the children. Some of our favorites are:

Candy Land

Chutes and Ladders

Ants in the Pants


HiHo! Cherry-O Game

Home Made Board or Table Games

With construction paper and stickers you can make any game to cover any concept at any time! Make your own games and let the children decide on the rules each time they play!


One resource I simply could not do with out is The Creative Curriculum for Preschool by Diane Trister Dodge.

I think every classroom should have one! If your program does not have a copy, check your local library or bookstore. It is a wealth of information on interest centers and could not be more developmentally appropriate!

Themed Materials

Choose the materials to be used in the Preschool Math Activities Interest Center based on the concepts you are working on with your children (counting, number recognition, sorting) or the Theme you are working on (Dinosaurs, etc.).

On my Preschool Themes page, you'll find almost 150 free themes to use.  Within each theme you will find a selection of my favorite math and manipulative activities for each theme!

More Information About Preschool Math Skills

Knowing the math skills your preschoolers are developing and should be developing will help you plan math across your curriculum and throughout your classroom.

My 4-hour, online workshop, Math in the Preschool Classroom will teach you in detail each of the math process skills that preschoolers develop. This workshop may qualify for your annual in-service training requirements.

To learn more about the details of this and my Preschool Science Workshop, click here.

Other article you may be interested in:

Go to Preschool Plan It's Home Page

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