What are the rest of the students doing? Center activities in k-1
It is really important that while the teacher is conducting a guided math lesson, that the other students are engaging in activities that provide purposeful practice. These activities should be differentiated so that children are working on the skill sets they need to grow. Here is a great website with some pictures from an early childhood class, that shows the kinds of activities that the other students can be doing. http://www.windham.k12.me.us/wsd_primary/staff/mhalpern/math.cfm
Shaving cream numbers is always a hit because it taps into the bodily-kinesthetic learning style. The block building does too. I would be sure to differentiate these activities. For example, the task card for the novices would say draw different numbers that they should be working on…ones they are having difficulty with, doing reversals or just learning. Whereas with the experts, I would have them writing number sequences and two digit numbers.
In terms of the blocks, I would give different groups, depending on their readiness levels, different amounts to build. So, the novices might be building block structures with amounts from 5-15 and the experts might be using 25–30 blocks. I would also have the children draw and or write about what they built, using their math words. This could be done on scaffolded graphic organizers, so for some students they would check off what they used, while for others, they would draw what they used and name it.