Typically a preschool math interest center 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.
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!
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.
Activities in the Math Interest Center help children:
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.
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.
Provide age appropriate board games keeping in mind your goals for the children. Some of our favorites are:Candy Land
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!
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 140 themes to use. Within each theme you will find a selection of my favorite math and manipulative activities for each theme!
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.