Kindergarten Math Centers - Exploration Thursdays Part 5

3/03/2016 / 4 comments
Exploration Thursday came about after watching my class explore all the new materials in the beginning of the year.

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.

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

Magnetic blocks
These Magz-Bricks magnetic blocks were another early winter purchase. My class, like all others, is fascinated by magnets. I could not resist trying these out!

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!

Geometric shapes
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.
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.

Now they use them to make helicopters and flowers as well as 3d shapes! Notice the cube at the base! 

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

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.
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.

Pattern blocks

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.
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 .

 I love watching them use dominoes. A lot of kids love to build towers.

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

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!

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.


Straws and connectors

Cup stacking


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?

How do you introduce new materials to allow for exploration in your classroom?


  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.

    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! 😄

  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!

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


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