Kindergarten math lessons may appear different than the older grades, but they can follow a similar workshop structure. A kindergarten math lesson still starts with a mini-lesson, then students have time to work independently or with peers, and then there is a closing activity. Kindergarteners learn best when their activities are concrete and hands-on, and it’s even better when their learning can be through play! In this blog post, I will walk you through how to structure your kindergarten math lesson!
Kindergarten Math Lesson: The warm-up
Tell Me Fast
Before I begin my kindergarten math lessons, I always start with a warm-up. This warm-up is a quick and easy way to start your kindergarten math lesson, but it targets some important math skills! One math warm-up I love to use is subitizing, or Tell Me Fast. I show the students a quick image of dots or other images and the students have to tell me how many they see. This helps with their number sense and helps students start to decompose numbers and see how groups of numbers can make other numbers. You can read more about subitizing in kindergarten here.
Which One Doesn’t Belong
Another warm-up I love to use is Which One Doesn’t Belong. Students see four images and they have to pick one that is different and explain why. This helps them to look for structure and patterns, as well as work on reasoning and explaining their opinions. These are important math practice standards. Additionally, it helps students learn to disagree respectfully. You can get some free Which One Doesn’t Belong here.
Another math warm-up I love to include in my kindergarten math lesson is How Many? In this routine, I show students a picture of some objects and I ask simply, “How Many?” I keep it open-ended on purpose to allow students to count all kinds of things! They can categorize what they see and count the objects in that category.
Numberless Word Problems
Numberless Word Problems are also great for math warm-ups. They really give the children a chance to think deeply about what they know and what they don’t know about a math problem. It forces them to really understand the problem before blurting out what they think the answer is.
Finally, a favorite math warm-up in kindergarten is choral counting. In this, the students count either forwards or backwards and I write the numbers down while they are counting. After a little while, we stop counting and the children look at the numbers I’ve written down for patterns. Depending on how I write the numbers, they might notice skip counting by twos or fives in a certain column, or they might notice that all the numbers in one row start with 1. This helps with rote counting but also provides a deeper understanding of number sense and place value for children.
Kindergarten Math Lessons: Stations
After the mini-lesson, I send students off to practice math. I use stations for my kindergarten math lesson that are both individual and partner games with lots of hands-on materials. There are 5 stations to go on my 5 main tables. I rotate the stations throughout the units with different games, but I try to wait until everyone has been to the station at least once before changing it. I love to have stations that work on counting, adding two dice, number writing, and teen numbers. Towards the end of the year, I exchange counting activities for more place value and include more addition and subtraction activities.
Kindergarten Math for the YEAR!
In my classroom, children decide which station they want to go to and they decide how long they stay. This doesn’t just magically happen, I have to teach the routines slowly over a period of time. You can learn more about that here. To keep track of students and which stations they have been to, students sign out of the station when they are done with it. We talk a lot about what is a good amount of time to be at a station.
When I am introducing the station, I tell the students how many they need to complete or how many times to play (at a minimum) before they can move on to another station. Sometimes students may choose to stay at a station the whole day, and that’s ok! They won’t be able to return to the station until they go to all the stations at least once (another rule we discuss and practice). We also practice, many times, cleaning up the station before they go to another station. This helps manage the mess at the end of station time.
While students are at stations, this is when I am pulling small groups to work on targeted math skills. Check out this free guide for more information on managing math small groups!
Kindergarten Math lessons: Closure
After stations are cleaned up, the students come back to the rug for a 2-5 minute closing activity. Sometimes this is a refresher from the day’s lesson. Sometimes, it’s one of the warm-ups mentioned earlier. Another activity I love to do at the end because students are trickling in after the cleanup, is making a human number line. I give them all numbers and they have to put themselves in number order.
Number names is also a fun one because it lets the children write on the board to show a number. If I say the number we are doing today is 8, then as students are coming to the rug, they draw the number 8 on the board. Maybe they draw 8 houses or hearts or they draw 5 and then 3 or they draw 8 like on a domino… so many possibilities to show the number 8! I also put on a math song or video, I especially love Jack Hartmann!
Kindergarten math lessons are pretty similar to older grades, with time on the rug for a lesson and time to independently practice the math skills. In kindergarten, math should be hands-on and playful. Children should have multiple opportunities to practice skills in many different ways! I love using choice to keep my students engaged throughout the math block and encourage independence during the kindergarten math lesson.