When a new group of kindergartners walks through the door, we soon find out that they have a wide range of school experience and prior knowledge. One of my favorite ways to differentiate instruction in the first portion of the school year is through literacy and math center activities. A centers rotation helps me provide engaging activities that meet students where they’re at as they practice grade-level skills. Keep reading for my favorite back to school centers for kindergarten!
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Back to School Literacy Centers
Lay a solid foundation for reading with phonemic awareness activities! For students who don’t have very much letter knowledge, the Reading Beginning Sounds center is a great activity. They can put two halves of a book together based on the beginning sound that they hear when they name a picture. A similar activity that doesn’t require letter knowledge is the Swinging to the Rhymes activity. Students will match two halves of a swing set based on the rhymes.
For students who have learned some letters and sounds, the Lunch Full of Beginning Sounds center helps students match the letter on the sandwich with the picture on the lunch bag that has the corresponding beginning sound.
For students who are brand new to learning the alphabet, one of the first things they can practice is determining the difference between letters and numbers! As students begin to learn letters, they can practice identifying whether letters are uppercase or lowercase with the Sorting/Ordering Letters center. Students who need an additional challenge can put the letter cards from this center in alphabetical order.
Students can practice matching uppercase letters with lowercase letters in the See Saw Letter Match. They can also practice identifying letters in different fonts as they find and cover uppercase and lowercase letters in the Letter Hunt center. Students also enjoy playing this Spin and Graph game, which also comes with a blank graph and spinner to customize for students.
As students learn to identify letters, they can explore letter formation by building letters with playdough in the Building Letters activity. When they’re ready, students can match and trace letters on the cards they select in the Make the Cut center. Finally, students can put some of their new skills together in the Write and Find activity. After tracing and writing the letter, they can identify the pictures that have that beginning sound. Mini erasers are perfect for covering the pictures!
Some students start the school year ready to start practicing sight words! In the Coloring Sight Words center, students will read the word on the crayon box and use the crayon letters to build the sight word. For even more of a challenge, students can read high-frequency words as they place word cards in order for the Sentence Unscramble activity.
Back to School Math Centers
Students can practice putting numbers in order in several different ways based on their readiness. Students can add the missing number to a sequence of three numbers for the Books in Order activity. They can put number cards in order, using a number line for support, in the Order Numbers center.
Students also love to put together a puzzle for the Ordering Numbers Mystery Picture! They can place puzzle pieces in order based on the number listed on each card. Once the pieces are in order, students can reveal a fun mystery picture! There are five-piece and ten-piece options.
While many students come to school knowing how to count by rote, they often need more practice with one-to-one correspondence. In the Bus Stops Here center, students can line up the correct number of students next to the bus with that number. Students can count a variety of lunch food items and match them to the correct tray for the Let’s Count at Lunch center.
Students can practice one-to-one correspondence as they build Number Towers with snap cubes. They can also count groups of school items and place the corresponding puzzle on top to complete the Counting Mystery Pictures.
Number Identification and Formation
Identifying and writing numbers are important skills to practice at the beginning of the school year. In the Roll a Number center, students will clip the number that matches the number rolled on the die. ( I love these mini clothes pins!) Students can also improve their number sense skills in the All About Numbers activity, where they complete a puzzle by matching a number to its different representations.
The Spin and Graph Numbers center comes with both dot and number spinners, based on what you’d like students to practice. Finally, students can put it all together in the Let’s Write Numbers center, where they practice tracing and writing numbers, then count and add the correct number of crayons to the card. Be sure to laminate these cards so you can use them again and again with dry-erase markers!
Ten Frames and More!
Helping students understand ten frames is important because they are a tool that they will use all year and beyond! Students can match ten frames to the correct number for the A Pouch of Ten Frames activity. They can also practice building numbers with playdough and then add playdough balls to the ten frame.
The beginning of the year is also a great time to practice naming and identifying shapes! Students can choose a card and color the matching shape on the recording sheet.
Back to School Centers for Kindergarten
All of the kindergarten center activities shown above are included in my bundle of Back to School Literacy and Math Centers. Each activity comes with a recording sheet for student accountability and an “I Can” picture card to encourage independence. If you would like to take a closer look at everything included in this bundle, you can find it in the A Spoonful of Learning shop or on Teachers Pay Teachers.
Save These Back To School Center Ideas
I hope this post has given you some inspiration to try literacy and math centers at the beginning of the year! Click here to read more about how I introduce centers at the beginning of the year. Be sure to save this pin to your favorite teaching board on Pinterest so you can come back to these back to school centers whenever you’re ready to download and print!