The KEY to making math stations fun!

Here is something I have learned about kindergarteners and kids in general . . . engaging them often means using real life objects in new and interesting ways.   So when it was time to think about community helpers and math stations, I wanted something that was hands on and would hold my students’ interest. (differentiate by readiness, learning profile or . . . INTEREST!)

The key?. . . KEYS!!!

Now I have a boat load of keys in my manipulative arsenal.  Most are from my dad who was a long time hand man and jack of all trades. But a  couple of years ago, I also I sent out notes to my students’ parents asking for any and all irrelevant and thow-away keys that we could add to our math manipulatives.  This is a super easy request for parents to help with in your class.  You will get a ton back.  Parents ask their friends, who ask grandparents and aunts and uncles. And who would have guessed that my kinders would have loved exploring with them.  They explored, compared, sorted by size and color. . . You name it.  Kids LOVE keys.


So in starting my community helpers math stations, I knew I wanted to get more use out of my keys.  Here’s what I came up with . . .
For my students who are still working on number recognition and producing quantities and for matching numbers, I have these self-correcting . . . (i.e. independent=yippee!) . . . counting mats.

They select a card, write the number in the box, sort out that many keys onto the tens frames mat and write the numbers that come after.  You can differentiate it based on your students readiness.  Numbers 1-10 for your students still at that beginning number recognition stage, or 1-20 for students are working beyond that.

And for your really high fliers, there is a making ten option.  Students select a card, write the number in the box, select that many keys to place on the ten frame . . .
Then they count the empty boxes to see ‘how many more keys’ they would need to make 10.
They write that number next to finish the number sentence, open the self-correcting card and check their answer.
I promise you, this is going to be a popular station, but remember, it’s ok to give them some time to explore with these before they get right down to work.  It is kindergarten after all.
In addition to keys, Community Helpers Math Stations Galore also includes 12 other stations from which you can choose in selecting activities for your math stations.  Included is community helpers number writing/counting book above.
A number linking activity
Self-correcting patterning cards and mats
A counting on activity
Roll say keep shapes game (with a twist)
Counting how many and recording mats
Calling All Cars number identification fun
number play-doh mats with tens frames
and ‘Call 911’ number recognition game to name a few.  Differentiated and all stations include a handy ‘how to play’ reference sheet like the one below.
These are really helping my students ‘remember’ or recognize the games when they get to the station.
So that’s it for community helpers math stations.  If you’d like to see the whole kitten caboodle, you can click on the pictures above or on the one below to see the preview.

Now get out there and get some keys to play with already.


Marsha Moffit McGuire

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