Friday, February 10, 2012

Math Trays for Multi-Age Preschool

One of the challenges we face in our program is the multiple ages and developmental levels of the children we serve.  We constanly strive to meet the learning needs of all the children in appropriate ways.  One activity that we have started doing this year is math trays.  I found these baskets at Target for $1 each.  Everyday as the children arrive they complete their arrival routine and then find their tray on the table with activites that are appropriate for them.  At arrival time, we focus on math readiness skills.  This particular week we were focusing on counting skills. 
This pink tray is a ice stick tray from the Dollar Tree.  We used a permanent marker to write a numeral in each slot.  The child is then given a small manipulative (buttons in this case) to count into each slot.
This child has the written numeral as well as a visual cue to help them count the correct number of tokens for each square.  The children also enjoy playing with their manipulatives and have some free exploration time while they are working at the tables as everyone arrives and gets settled for the day.

This child is using the same tokens as the child above, but he is focusing on color sorting.  He is using a wooden tray that I found at the Dollar Tree to sort each color and give him the visual cues he needs to help him make the groups.  You just never know what fun tools you'll find at the dollar store!  The nice thing about all of these materials is that they can be used over and over in multiple ways.

As you can see in some of the pictures, we have dry erase boards and markers in each basket as well.  One of the things the children do when they arrive is practice writing their name.  According to their developmental level, they may just be making lines or working on the first letter of their name.  Some children are working on fine tuning their hand writing skills for kindergarten and beginning to write their last name as well.  I found those little dry erase boards 2/$1 at Target before school started this year.  We needed something to erase with and we found some little gloves in the classroom that weren't being used so those are our erasers.  One board and one marker fits nicely into the glove for safe keeping.  The children also enjoy trying on the gloves and it is great fine motor practice for them to try getting all their fingers in the correct holes.