Easy Print and Prep Kindergarten Centers

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I’m so excited to share this new math bundle full of fun activities to reinforce different math concepts. Easy Print and Prep Kindergarten Centers is full of hands-on, entertaining math centers!

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It is endlessly growing: more products will continue to be added to it. I am currently working on: 3D Shapes, Measurement and Time, Symmetry, Money and Subtraction. Once those have been added, I will keep making more products to add to each of the categories. That means the price of the bundle will keep going up, so buy it now so you can get all future uploads without having to pay more!

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Right now Number Sense, Addition, 2D Shapes, Sorting and Patterning are already included.

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Each of these activities is easy to set up: they are black and white (you can print them on colored paper if you want to brighten them up!), easy to cut out and need minimal materials. That means that you will have all new centers ready for your class in no time!

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So go get it now and continue to receive new activities throughout the school year to keep building on your students’ math skills!

Bundle Preview

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Popsicle Letter Puzzles

Popsicle Letter Puzzles- Blog

I love making hands-on activities for our students to use. When I made these Popsicle Letter Puzzles I was thinking they would be great as a puzzle activity, then I had a brainwave and I decided to step it up a notch! I used velcro and large popsicle sticks to make them a little more interesting. Here’s how I did it:

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First I printed out the Popsicle Puzzles on colored paper to make them look nice, then I laminated them and cut them out again.

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I cut up velcro strips that I bought at the Dollar store and glued them on to one side of the popsicle stick (I added the hot glue to make sure it didn’t come off).

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Then I put the other side of the velcro on the back of the puzzle pieces. This resulted in burning my fingers about 32 times.

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There you have it- Popsicle Letter Puzzles that students can use to work on letter recognition and phonics! You just have to repeat the process 25 more times and clean up the mess that you will notice is all over my kitchen table.

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I think the mess and pain were worth it though, they are adorable! You can also leave them as popsicles, and have students put them together without the sticks:

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That’s 2 cute ways to use this literacy activity and I think your students would like it either way! Get it here:

Popsicle Letter Match square preview

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Match the Pair! Letter Matching Activity

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I have added this fun new literacy center to my store, and I think it is going to be perfect for the beginning of the school year. Match the Pair! has students matching uppercase and lowercase letters to complete the pair of shoes.

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It has 52 letter cards and two half-page posters. I attached the posters to two small bins I found at Michaels for $2 (awesome deal!).

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My idea is to have students place the cards in the bins once the have found the match.

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You can decide if you want to put out all the cards, or just a few letters that you are working on. You can play it as a matching game, a memory game or use it in a pocket chart!

Get Match the Pair! from my store now!
match the pair square preview

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Dyed Dried Lima Beans for Math & Literacy

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Yeah, you read that title right. Dyed Dried Lima Beans. I  saw this tutorial on Facebook, and I knew I had to try it! I followed the instructions and made 6 different colors: green, blue, yellow, orange, purple and red. They were really inexpensive to make (I bought the large bag for $5 and I still have half the bag left) and I have so many ideas for them!

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I used a few to write letters and numbers on so students can use them in our loose part centers.

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There are so many options for the rest of the dyed lima beans- sensory bin filler, loose parts, patterning, and whatever else students can think of to do with them!

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These are going to be perfect to use with my Pattern Task Cards. I am really excited to use these this year, and they were so easy to make!

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Pineapple Number Work Mats

What are items you like to use in your classroom that were easy to make?

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Kindergarten Centers you need for the Beginning of the School Year

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Getting ready for the beginning of the school year can be overwhelming. Make you you check out my previous posts about How to Prep your Centers and How to Set Up you Centers. Now if you need ideas for what to do at the beginning of the school year, here are some ideas to get you started!

Literacy Centers

At the beginning of the year, we focus on phonics and getting all the letter sounds down. Here are a few activities to work on letter recognition and letter formation:

1- Beginning Sound Cover-Up Work Mats

2- Match the Picture!

3- Write & Swipe Beginning Sound Activities

4- Pineapple Literacy Activities

5- Letter Cover-Up Work Mats

Math Centers-

At the beginning of the school year, our math focus is on number sense. We like to assess where each student is and take it from there. Sometimes we work on numbers to 5 and other times we can go higher. It depends on the class, and changes year-to-year. Here are some activities that you can use at the beginning of the year, and will take you through the rest of the school year as students gain more number sense knowledge.

1- Pineapple Number Work Mats

2- 3 Kindergarten Number Activities for Number Sense

3- Kindergarten Number Sense Work Mats

4- Missing Numbers Task Cards for Numbers 1-20

5- Spin & Cover! Subitizing Work Mats

These are all great activities that can be used throughout the school year. They are easy to set-up and simple enough that students can complete them on their own while you are working with others. We always keep these handy since they cover important topics in literacy and math!

Need more activities and centers? Check out my store for even more products:

Creative Kindergarten

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Tips to Make Your First Day of Kindergarten Successful

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This will be my fourth year teaching kindergarten. That’s 4 times I am  going through the first day of kindergarten routine. I am by no means an expert, but I do have a few tips and tricks to get you through that first day.

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1. Have a plan- but know that it might change. It’s great to have a plan for the first day, it’s really a must, but just know that it might go completely sideways on you and you will have to change it up. You don’t always know what students you are getting, what kinds of behaviours to expect and you can’t prepare for every scenario. So plan out your day, write it out, but be flexible enough to change it if you see that things aren’t going as planned. This isn’t a failure- great teachers are flexible and are able to accommodate the needs of their class.

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2. Keep it simple. Don’t plan elaborate, time consuming activities. For many of the students, this will be their first time in a classroom and they have no idea what to expect. Go through your daily routines and expectation (know that this will take longer than planned as students get used to where everything is and what they have to do), and keep their day simple. For me that means a simple colouring activity (we usually do a “How I Colored on the First Day of Kindergarten” sheet- you can get a copy of it in my Memory Books or Memory Journals packs), read a book, have simple games and centers set out (play dough, building centers, coloring center- nothing too messy!) You are getting them used to being in a kindergarten class, so it takes a while for them to get used to the routine, be patient with them as they learn what is expected of them.

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3. Kids might cry, parents might cry. At my school we do not have a staggered start. We have all students come in the kindergarten yard at the same time on the same day, so there are lots of children coming in at once. We have name tags ready that are colour-coded to the child’s classroom and we stick them on as they come in. Some students walk in with no problem, but others won’t let go of the parent they are with. My best advice is to ask the parent to leave. It’s hard to leave your crying child, but it’s the best way to get students through the gate. They usually calm down within a few minutes and are distracted by the fun day ahead of them. On the other hand, make sure you know who you can call for help if a student is having a really hard time adjusting. My second year, I had two students who would not stop screaming and when I tried to comfort one, he scratched me across the face. That’s when I called for back-up. Know who is available to come help you, so if you start feeling uncomfortable, you know someone can come to assist.

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4. Have fun, it will be over soon! The first day of kindergarten can  be exhausting for you, and for students. It is a really fun, get-to-know you day but you will be drained by the end of it. Go home, have a good rest and know that day 2 will be easier!

What is your advice for the first day of school? This is be no means a comprehensive list, and I know there are some great ideas out there to help us through that first day!

Start your year off by making memories. I use these books and journals throughout the school year and keep them all together. We send them home on the last day of school so families can look back on all the growth their child made!

               Memory Journals squareMemory Books square

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How to Set up your Kindergarten Centers

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Now that you’ve got your centers prepped and ready to go (if you don’t, then you should definitely read my post about prepping your centers) you want to set them up for your students to use.

Letter Writing Pack
Letter Writing Pack

Step 1. How are you going to run centers? Are you going to have timed centers where children rotate through all the centers at the same time, or will you have free-flow where students can pick what center they do and for how long. Here’s how we run our centers:

We usually have a large block of time devoted to literacy in the morning and a long block of time devoted to math in the afternoon. We have a short discussion at the carpet before we start our centers, about what we are learning about that day. Before students set out to centers, we explain what is at each table and some expectations for what they should do during center time. Then students are allowed to explore the centers and move around as they would like. There are sometimes centers that they have to do (in literacy there is usually their weekly journal writing, and in math we have them do a center that is focused on the strain we are learning about). Teachers circulate around the room and start discussions with students about their learning, or pull small groups to do focused instruction.

Magnetic/Non-Magnetic
Magnetic or Non-Magnetic Exploration

Step 2. What centers do you want to do? I have a large variety of centers that are ready to go for different areas of our learning. We can get away with using centers for 2 days in a row most of the time, and then we switch it to different activities so that students don’t get bored. We reuse our centers throughout the school year, and build upon the knowledge that they have learned. We try to have a good blend of hands-on activities and things for students to explore. I love having loose parts at a table so students can show us what they know, and we have the bare minimum of paper and pencil work. We still have students do some writing, we need to get them ready for Grade 1, but we want to make sure we give them a rich experience with different kinds of materials.

Math Loose Parts
Math loose parts center, set up to explore coins.

Step 3. Set up your centers. Make sure you have all the materials set out so students don’t have to search for things. Enough pencils, papers, loose parts, anything they might need to be successful. You might change different materials throughout the school year and depending on what you are learning about.

During our math and literacy times, we have a loose parts center set out with different materials. Students can use these materials to show us what they have learned and we will often change these materials throughout the year to match what we are learning about, or just to keep it interesting!

Literacy Loose Parts
Literacy loose parts center to make sight words with different materials.

Step 4. Explain your expectations for what you want happening during your center time. Set up the rules with your students so that they know what is expected of them during their learning time. Especially during the first few weeks of school you will have to keep reinforcing these rules, you can reiterate the rules before students start centers, and circulate around the activities to make sure they understand what they are to do.

Even though we have free-flow centers, students are still expected to complete activities to their best. One of the reasons we allow students to choose their own centers, is because not all students can complete the same work in the same amount of time. That does not mean that they don’t have to complete anything, they can just take it at their own pace. We also make sure that the noise volume doesn’t get too loud, we are still in a learning environment and we need to make sure that everyone can be their best learner.

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Exploring loose parts in different ways.

Step 5. Have fun! This is kindergarten, so make sure you are having fun and setting out centers that keep your students interested and engaged. If they really like dinosaurs, make sure you allow them to learn about dinosaurs!

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How to Prep your Kindergarten Centers

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One of the biggest things I had to figure out when I first started in kindergarten, was how to prepare and organize math and literacy centers. It’s a big undertaking and it’s a continuous project. I am always adding to my centers, improving them and revamping them. Here is my method for putting together the centers for our kindergarten classroom (this post contains affiliate links).

Pineapple Literacy Activities
Pineapple Literacy Activities

Step 1. Find the centers that you want to use. You can use Pinterest, Teachers pay Teachers or make your own. I like to focus on one strain at a time, if you cast the net too wide, you will quickly get overwhelmed. At the beginning of the school year we focus on number sense and phonics. So that’s what I have been working on getting ready. I like to create my own resources, and I upload them to my Teachers pay Teachers store.

Can you solve this?
Can you solve this? Ten frame and number line work mats

Step 2. Print out your centers. Some centers are in color, some are in black & white. Decide what you want to use:

–>if you print in black & white you can use colored paper to make your centers really pop (Astobrights paper is a great option!)

–> do you want to use cardstock to make you centers stay flat? I like to use cardstock for items that are going to be full page, and students need to use flat (work mats, play dough mats).

If you are planning to print your centers from home, you should think about getting HP Instant Ink. It’s a great program that you pay for monthly, you can choose how many pages you want to use per month, and they automatically send you ink cartridges when your printer is running low. You can get free months when you start your membership by entering:

–> 6freeink (6 months free)

–> hwGTd (1 month free for you and 1 for me!)

–> and when you buy a new printer that is compatible with the program, they give you 3 more months for free. I bought the HP Envy 5540 printer and it has worked great for my home printing.

Pineapple Number Work Mats
Pineapple Number Work Mats

Step 3. Cut out the pieces of your centers. It’s better to cut things out before you laminate in order to save space!

Pineapple Number Work Mats
Pineapple Number Work Mats

Step 4. Laminate your centers. I used these AmazonBasics laminating pouches and they worked great. They are thick and make it really easy to wipe off whiteboard marker. Laminating your centers has many advantages: they are durable, you can reuse them year after year, you can use different materials on them (like play dough, loose parts, Wikki Stix) and students can use whiteboard markers to write on them. If you don’t want to laminate, you can also use page projectors (like these Dry Erase Pockets).

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Step 5. Cut again. If your laminated pieces need to be cut out, you have to do it again. Make sure you leave a space between the paper and the edge of the plastic sheet (this way you make sure it stays sealed) and I like to make sure the edges are curved. I suggest finding a good show to watch on TV and marathon. If you have full sized paper, you won’t need to cut them out.

Step 6. Store your centers. I find it’s best to keep them in large Ziplock bags. That way you can keep all the pages and pieces together, and they are easy to keep in totes or filling cabinets.

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Now you are ready to use your new centers. Over the years, your centers will grow and you will have more to choose from! Most of our centers are used throughout the school year, we get a lot of use out of them and following these steps keeps them looking good.

How do you prep your centers? Any tips and tricks?

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