Hands-on Literacy and Math centers for the beginning of the year

This week our class is getting to know their ABC’s with exposure to this fun and interactive literacy center. It also helps build fine motor skills with the use of the clothes pins. I used a sentence strip (had to tape two together) and color coded them to match the letters on the clothespins. It’s a pain when they mix them up, so this works really well! Once the students have placed the clips on, I have them practice writing their letters on a recording sheet, which is placed in a sheet protector and they use a marker to trace. I found a great website that generates letter and word tracing that I used for this. www.handwritingworksheets.com 
Name practice. This is a super easy way to practice their names. I do both in uppercase and lowercase. Just take a sentence strip and cut them and it instantly becomes a puzzle! I know the management of keeping them in order when you have 25+ students becomes tricky, so I try and use as many different colors as I can and put them in envelopes with the same color on the front. I also try and group the envelopes of names by their tables. This way they don’t have to dig through 25 names, they are only going through names in the folders for their table. You can label the folder by however you label their tables. For me, I use colors for my tables. So each folder is a different color.
name builder
Here is a great math center we used last week that the kids love. The skill is to identify numbers 0-5 and matching it on a 5-frame. What you can’t see is on the back I made the number of dots on the clothes pin for those students who need additional support with number recognition. That way they will all be successful with the center activity. Once they have matched the clothes pins, I have them write the numbers for extra practice. 
5 frame counting
I also created some fun math puzzles that the students love! I have them differentiated so my higher students now are doing 0-10. When they finish putting the puzzles together they are to write their numbers in order.  
number puzzles 0-5

This is our fourth week of school, and we are working on number recognition from 1-10. These number towers are so much fun! The kids enjoy building with their unifix cubes to match the numbers on their mat. 

Another number recognition center we are trying is gumball counting. They pick a card and they either recognize the number or they count the objects on the card if they don’t know that number yet. Then they are to place that many gumballs (pom poms) on the gumball machine and then write the number with a marker. I place the gumball mat in a sheet protector. They love it! 

 It is also fun to bring play-doh into the mix! These have been a hit with my students. I chose to print them on bright paper vs. using colored ink, and they work great. Each student gets their own play-doh and they can pick and choose pages to work on 1:1 counting and number recognition. For additional work, they can write the numbers down either on a white board or in a math notebook. 

lollypop counting

Practicing uppercase and lower case letters is fun when we incorporate the pocket chart. Sometimes it’s great for the students to work with a partner and to be able to get up and move a little during center time. I have a magnetic pocket chart that I place on the big white board in the room, and partner up 2 and sometimes 3 students together to work on this. They have fun finding the matching letters!


Another fun pocket chart center that we started using after about 4 weeks in, is the first sound match. This one is still difficult for some students, so I make sure to pair them up with a partner who is able to help them.


My students love using these to practice handwriting. It’s also fun to use the play-doh if you want and have them mold the uppercase letters too. I usually put them in sheet protectors and have them use dry erase markers. You could also print them in black and white so they can color them and use pencil! I love having different options for my students depending on the day or their needs.


All of these (except for the letter clothespin match) are available for purchase in my store! Click here for more information.

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  1. says

    I really like the use of clothespins for the alphabet match, it is definitely good for their little fingers and fine motor! You can use them for so many things, love them!

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