Kindergarten Math Centers - Exploration Thursdays Part 5

Exploration Thursday straws and connectors creation


Exploration Thursday came about after watching my class explore all the new materials in the beginning of the year.


Exploration Thursday

I would introduce 2 or 3 new manipulatives each week. We would talk about how we would use them class and I would give them time to just explore. It was captivating to watch them explore and play with all these new things.

Exploration Thursday


I knew then that I wanted it to become part of our regular math centers. I believe that all kids learn best from self directed learning and hands on exploration.

A lot of these activities have been mentioned in part 4 - Buddy Games Wednesday, so first I will start with the new ones.

Cool crazy connectors

cool crazy connector creations

I purchased these in the late fall as an alternative to unfix cubes. They were getting frustrated only be able to build objects with straight lines, so I found these cool crazy connectors and thought they might do the trick!

Cool Crazy Connector Creations

They use these to make rockets, planes and all sorts of animals. Some kids like to lock them together to make patterns, or even just sort the different objects. 

Cool Crazy Connector Creations

 I love how easy they are to lock into different shapes!

Cool Crazy Connector Creations

Magnetic blocks

Magz-Bricks creations

These Magz-Bricks magnetic blocks are another one all my classes love. My class, like all others, is fascinated by magnets. I could not resist trying these out!

Magz-Bricks - Magnetic Building Toys


So far they make a lot of small structures, but I am curious to see if anyone will try the descending tower that is pictured in the directions. I bought another set to add to the mix after vacation - maybe they will be able to attempt it now!
Magz-Bricks - Magnetic Building Toys

Geometric shapes
3D shape builders

Geometric shape exploration

When we were working on our 2d and 3d shape unit, I noticed a lot of students struggling with understanding the differences between circles and spheres and squares and cubes. I headed over to Amazon and found the geometric shape building set.

Geometric Shape Blocks for Exploration

I noticed that once they were able to physically build a sphere and a cube they all suddenly knew how to identify them correctly. We had used a variety of songs, videos and hands on projects. But it took physically assembling them to help them understand solid versus flat.

Geometric Shape Blocks for Exploration

Now they use them to make helicopters and flowers as well as 3d shapes! 

Geometric Shape Blocks for Exploration

Wooden blocks
Wooden blocks

You can never go wrong with a classic! I purchased these wooden blocks last year when I found out I was headed back to Kindergarten

Wooden Block Creations

I had every intention of buying another set to add to the mix, but they are able to make the coolest creations with what they have now.

Wooden Block Creations

Sometimes I think it adds to their creativity when they are forced to work with a  smaller amount. They really have to think outside of the box to achieve their goals.

Wooden Block Creations

Pattern blocks
Pattern Blocks Free Play



A classroom staple that is loved by all! We have two shoeboxes full of these blocks. Sometimes they will work together to create a gigantic picture.

I bought bright pattern blocks this year for our math kits and my students and I love them!

Pattern Blocks Creations
Pattern Blocks

Other times they will create mini animals or simply sort out all the different colors and shapes. I love how easily they self differentiate during exploration time .

Pattern Blocks Sorting


Dominoes
Foam Dominoes

We have the traditional dominoes and the large foam dominoes. I love watching them use dominoes. A lot of kids love to build towers.

Dominoes for Exploration Thursday

Some will make entire cities and create the best stories to go with what they have made.

Dominoes for Exploration Thursday

Others will attempt the classic rings and try to knock them down. But they never get tired of playing with them. In fact it is one activity always gets chosen during indoor recess as well. Even if they know we will be using it that day during math!

Dominoes on a ten frame

Dominoes for Exploration Thursday

Unifix cubes

I was so surprised to see that I don't have a lot of pictures of unifix cubes in use. We have two shoeboxes of these as well and they are able to build the coolest things with them! Apparently I just never get a picture of it! My favorite is when they make objects that can move and spin.

These next few centers are also part of Motor Skill Monday and Buddy Games Wednesday. They are wonderful activities for exploration, so they make another appearance every Thursday as well.

Geoboards
                                          
Geoboards Creations

Geoboards Creations

We have the large and mini geoboards. The mini size fits into their math kits and works well for arrival time and exploration time too!


Straws and connectors

Straws and Connectors

I love how they can really explore and create with these bendable straws and connectors!

Straws and Connectors

Cup stacking
Cup Stacking

Always a favorite for any class, they can build any creations they choose with these - plus who doesn't love when they fall?

Cup Stacking Tower

Jenga
Jenga in K-1

Jenga is always a huge hit and good for teamwork too!

Jenga in K-1

Squigz
Squigz suction cup toys

My classes love Squigz and I love how it makes their fingers strong! We have about 3 sets now that they use often. We add a sand timer and see if they can remove them all in under a minute!

Squigz stuck on the wall

They stick them to the furniture, the walls and even the floor as they drag themselves along it. These suction cups are super strong on walls and floors and really work those fine motor muscles!

Squigz suction cup toys

Legos
Legos creations

Legos are always a wonderful toy for cooperative play! I had to look everywhere to find the a set with lots of windows and doors!

Legos in K-1

Bristle Blocks

Bristle Block trucks

Bristle blocks is another great option that is good for finger muscles and allows them to be very creative!

Bristle Blocks


Marble Run
Marble Run in K-1

I had Marble Run when I was little and I knew I needed it for my class! It is an excellent teamwork toy and a huge hit on indoor recess too!

Marble Run

That is how I am running math centers this year. I truly think it is the perfect way to keep them fully engaged and collaborating. They are choosing the activities that they want to explore and learn more about, and they are using it on the level that is appropriate for them.

I cannot see myself returning to a time when I select what activities my students will work on. I know that as an adult, I never enjoy workshop days where all the events are planned in detail in advance.

I truly appreciate those workshops where we are able to select the activities we will participate in. If I as an adult prefer that style of learning, shouldn't my students be allowed to learn in that way as well?

Did you miss the other parts of our Kindergarten Math centers, click below for the other posts in the series. 


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4 comments

  1. I am in love with your site. Thank you for posting all of these wonderful ideas. I am transitioning from 6th grade to kindergarten with only 3 months left of school and I could not be more thrilled to have found you.

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    1. I'm so glad it is helpful! Good luck with your transition - you are going to love Kindergarten. They are so excited to learn and always happy! 😄

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  2. Thanks for sharing. I have a similar approach for reading groups. You have shown me how I can apply it to maths as well!

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    Replies
    1. You're welcome! I'm glad it will be helpful for you!

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