Learning Centers Blog Hop Series: Math & Manipulatives


I just finished my first quarter and 7th week of school! I can't believe today I'm starting my 2-week fall break. Back to school came and went.

The kiddos have settled in, they have mastered the classroom routines and expectations, and they have developed their preferences and favorites materials to use and play during learning centers. The math and manipulative area is definitely the busiest center in my classroom!

Let me show you more about what happens in here with my Blog Hop Learning Centers Blog Hop!!!

The photos above show the most popular materials in the math and manipulatives center. An affective and inviting center should have materials to problem solve, ones that provide opportunities to interact with peer, and materials that spark imagination!

I consider that materials needed for this area are: pegs, puzzles, games and activities with numbers and shapes, magnetic tiles, nuts and bolts, games and activities for patterning and sorting, activity boards to practice with buttons, zippers, and snaps, linking materials, lacing and beading, Mr. Potato Head, abacus, books, and photos of the children in action.

The conducive environment for this center should have one main goal, which I consider it to be fine motor skills development.

In early childhood math and manipulatives center should invite children to play and explore, should promote critical thinking and introduce mathematical concepts and conversations that are apply on a daily basis.

This center provides a strong foundation in the areas of counting, sorting, probability, algebraic concepts, story problems, measurements, and mathematical operations among other math areas. 

The teachers' role in this learning center is to provide manipulative activity to help children gain confidence and feel more comfortable about math. Even though manipulative materials are intended to be used independently with little guidance, the teacher should facilitate its interaction. It should be within close proximity to take advantages of learning moments, to ask the right questions and the right moment and promote critical thinking in relation to math concepts. 

Did you like what you saw? Head on over to our next blogger to learn more!

Keep learning!


9 Tips for Effective Individualized Lesson Plans


Students learn best when lessons match their interests and individual abilities. Individualized lesson plans and instruction are critical to reach each one of our students. We do not learn all the same way, and should not teach the same way.

I am sharing with you the 9 tips I use in my classroom for effective lesson planning individualization.

Through observation is when I identify my students' interests, areas of strengths , and areas they need to work on. Besides academics I also observe for social-emotional development in my students. In my classroom I am currently working on initiating peer interactions and self-regulation.

Once I've done my observations I start developing my students' specific goals in divergent areas. I begin to create goals for math, language and literacy, physical development, and our primary focus for this year: ELD and social-emotional development.

It is very important to maintain confidentiality at all times. I always post my weekly lesson plan on the parents' board - but my individualized goals and lesson plan is only for my team's eyes. 

You've done observations, you have gotten to get to know your students, now you can identify which teaching strategies would be most effective for your students.

 I' always flexible when creating my individualized lesson plans. I can intend to apply a specific strategy for this specific student, therefore in may not work.  This happens sometimes, although the observation done initially could minimize it.

Provide engaging activities for the students. Young children learn through play, therefore planning fun, engaging games and activities would attract children to join them and explore.

When lesson planning balance teacher-directed and student-directed activities and discussions. Take turns with your young learners and allow them to initiate learning activities.

Provide a variety of activities and materials to work on those specific goals. Variety can be allowed in different ways. Try different times of the day, different learning materials, different teaching strategies, etc.

This tip is the one I consider the most important: teach and adapt!
Now that you have taken all of these tips and best practices into consideration, it's time for the best part: TEACH! Be aware that you must be willing to adapt. The lesson plan you've spent all weekend in creating did not work? that's ok! You must do a self-evaluation on your teaching and adapt to the student and the circumstances.
Grab this lesson plan format HERE!

This is a lesson plan sample with indidualizations. The blue means accommodations and individualized activities I will be offering and teaching to my students. Please note, I offer individualized activities for my below level, above level, and for my English Language Learners.

I truly hope these tips can help you provide your students with an individualized instruction to maximize their unique potential.

Keep learning!

This blog post was created in collaboration with Learning Genie.


Learning Center Blog Hop Series: Writing Center

Hello there!

And here we are with another PreK Learning Center Blog Hop from my series- the Writing Center. The writing center is where the young learners explore letters and explore pre-writing strokes necessary for writing their name, among many important and necessary skills that are taught in early childhood.

I love seeing how different each learning center looks like in each classroom, yet we share the same ultimate goal for our students. This is how my writing center looks like!

We have a child-sized desk that fits two students at the time. This learning center is located near the computers and the library, which are some of the quiet areas in the classroom.

These are the materials I have in my writing center at the moment. Like each individual learning center, I rotate toys and materials constantly (at least 4 times per year).
Because we are starting our school year, I have a variety of stencils for my students to explore lines and shapes. I have their names with photos on a binder ring for them to recognize their names as well their peers. A variety of dry-erase board with markers and erasers. Papers and a variety of writing tools. Alphabet stamps with ink, and alphabet tiles to form names and simple words.

Now that my students have learned how to use and care for tools in the writing center, I will introduce Boogie Boards writing tablets, smelly markers, other variety of writing paper, magnetic letter and boards, among other materials.

Writing importance in early childhood is critical. This is where teacher focus on strengthen small muscle skills to be able to produce an appropriate pencil grasp. We teach cooperation while sharing space and materials. We promote independence, individuality. as well opportunities to be in a quiet area of the classroom and work by themselves or with a partner.

Early learners begin to express thoughts through pictures and images they create themselves. They begin to tell stories previously read in the classroom and situations they have experienced. Students also love pretending to be the teacher while writing at the center.

My role in this learning center is to promote, encourage and celebrate milestones. I promote writing by providing a variety of engaging materials that capture their attention and curiosity. I encourage my young learner to visit the writing center by modeling how we use the materials available and showing their name in writing. 

I also celebrate their milestones and accomplishments. If the child was able to take the cap off the marker and put it back on....I celebrate and acknowledge it! If the child was able to write a picture of themself and invent-spelling his/her name...I celebrate and acknowledge!

This is a picture from one of my students. She drew the teachers and a whale.
She also wrote her name independently and seek help from the teacher to write the teachers' names.

Keep learning!