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Math Centers

Compiled By: shazam

Here are some ideas and games for using math centers in the elementary classroom.

math centers
Posted by: mina

I love having math centers in my room, but it has taken me a while to catch on that there needs to be actual "work" going on. I used to just put out the materials and let them make patterns, play with pattern blocks, finish number sentences, etc., but they really need to have an assignment. I have 5 centers a week, one for each day. When you complete one, you can have free centers. One math center is always a journal. I have a math question or problem typed up that they glue into their journal, date it, then answer it...showing me how they solved the problem. Those who don't write very well still have to draw a picture and be able to explain it to me. Another center will be related to our current unit...for example, time and money. They may have to stamp clock faces on a sheet and write specific times on them. Then I would have them write a sentence such as, " At 2:00, we go home on the bus." I want them to be able to relate the time to real life. For money, I may put toys out with price tags. They use real money (I provide a jar of change) and put the coins they need with the toy. To record the work, I have them write, " I need ___cents to buy the puzzle (or whatever.) I can have ___ dimes, ___ nickels, and ___ pennies. This lets me see if they truly understand. Another center would review the unit just finished, for example, tens and ones. Another would review math facts...this is a weekly center because our grade level goal is that they all exit 1st knowing their facts. I manage centers by putting half the class in centers while I work with the other half. Then we switch. Everyone knows they will get a turn.
Hope this helps.

Math Centers
Posted by: Anne

I only do math centers one week each month. I always have a stamp - a- coin center. I have a wksh divided into 4 parts with a coin value. At first we did 4 different coin amounts--remember not to need too many pennies as they have to wait so long. Later we do two different ways to make the same amount of money. Now we can figure change from a dollar and use Walgrren ads to pick our item to buy--This was after I did the Alexander I was rich last Sunday work.
I also have a clock center. I let them stamp the clocks. I have the same 4 divided papers with digital time or sometimes we make a book. They have gotten so fast with this now they have to pick some times I have cut up into a bowl and glue them before they stamp the clock.
I usually have a game center dice or dominoes.
I usually have a magnetic number center where they make an addition problem and their partner turns it around to subtraction.
I usually have a center playing a computer math drill game or some other fact drill.
I usually have a pattern- shape activity center.
This week I got a new lego math kit and a group did number fun work-I let them come up with an idea to show me how we could use it.
Sometimes I have a calculator game with a prepared worksheet.
I also have a group that I am testing on something.
Center time lasts about 20 min without the put out and take down time. Each month I have new math managers that prepare the centers--the first day is LONGER.
The next day every group moves to the next center. Hope this gave you some ideas.

I have math centers.
Posted by: april atkins

I do math centers 4 days a week in my classroom. I have 8 centers that are in tubs so it is easy storage. Each day the children visit 2 centers and my math table. I started doing math centers because this year we adopted a horrible math book. Math had become HARD and BORING for the students and ME! I spent a good 2 weeks teaching how to do the centers and all the procedures. That is key!!!!!!! My centers are very easy to set up and maintain. My centers are computers, addition, subtraction, time, problem of the day and Bingo, money, Skill review with Facts of Life game and one that rotates activities. I was write math stories at first now it is a Telling Time board game because we are on Telling Time Unit. It doesn't take much up keep at all! My kids tell me all the time "Thank you for making math fun." Not to mention I am enjoying teaching math again!

Math Centers
Posted by: Amanda K

I have had a great deal of success in math this year, and I attribute it all to my math centers. While most of the class is in centers, I teach a new concept to a small group at my kidney table. I never teach anything new to my kids in math unless I am doing it in small group.

I use all kinds of centers, like pattern blocks, Unifix cubes, measuring, Marcy Cook, etc. There is a great book called Math Their Way that has a lot of great ideas. It's a bit expensive, but worth it. I don't actually own it, but we have a first grade teacher in our district who gives a math seminar, and all the ideas from that seminar were from that book. One center that, surprisingly, is the most popular with my kids is Flash Cards. I made my own math fact flashcards out of index cards, then I had them laminated. I have enough sets of cards for each group of math facts (1-5, 5-10, and 10-20) for a group of five students. My kids, honestly, will rush to these cards before they go to any other center. They have started complaining that there aren't more cards. It's so strange, because I hated flash cards when I was younger, but my kids just love them. Give them a try!

math tubs
Posted by: L.P.

I teach K and I use math tubs for when the students are done with their regular work or as a filler. The kids know they can get one when they are done. I have jars of small manipulatives (small plastic dinos, plastic sea creatures, insects, those flat marbles available in craft stores, etc.) to sort, count, and make patterns with. I keep cups and sorting trays by them. I also have dominos and memory cards in jars and the original boxes, for them to play with a friend or by themselves. In bigger tubs are the regular cubes, pattern blocks, and large flat geometric shapes that fit together like a puzzle. These are quiet and seem to be popular. I keep picture cards with the pattern blocks and patterning cards in the cube bin for them to use to make things with. I also keep my Judy clocks on the shelves with the tubs and the students like to use them and ask me what time recess is, etc, then match up the judy clock to my answer. For next year, I'm thinking of adding picture cards with a clock face and pictures of recess, lunch, etc. in the box.

Guided Math
Posted by: sjbohio

I do guided math three days a week. I have three groups I work with over a 90 minute period. I always do a small mini-lesson with the whole group before going into small groups. One group works with me, one group is playing with math games, and the third group is working on skill pages.

I pretest my students before starting new concepts so I have an idea of how to individualize my instruction. The games I use are ones I've made that relate to the skills we're currently working on or ones that we've just covered. The worksheets come from our math series and other sources I have pulled together.

At the end of the math period we review what's been taught that day. I usually hit math vocabulary pretty hard with the whole group because that's what trips them up on the state math test.

I have several really good links to math tubs and center activities if you're interested. I can post them if you want.

My groups are pretty flexible. I have moved students in and out of groups depending on whether or not they need more help or can work more without my assistance.

I love my math groups. I really feel like I know exactly what my kids are struggling with.


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Simple Math Centers
Posted by: Stacy R

I have tubs that contain dice and playing cards. The students are to make equations using these. For example, if they roll a 5 & 6, they make the equation 5+6=11, 6-5=11, 6*5=30, etc. They have to write down what they come up with.

I also have some file folder games, which the kids love.

I am a first year teacher, but so far the kids like them. I hope this helps.

Fun Math Games
Posted by: Caitlin

Here are a couple of my students favorite math games:

1. Wild West Addition/Subtraction: You need a deck of cards, with all the face cards taken out. Two students go up in front of the class and stand back-to-back. You put a card on each students forehead (without them seeing the card). Then the students take three steps away from each other and turn and face the class. The whole class then looks at the sum or difference of the two cards that are on the students' foreheads and tell them the sum or difference. Then, using the sum or difference, and looking at the card on the other person's forehead, they have to figure out the card on their forehead. Whoever shouts out the correct answer first wins that round. Play again and again. This can be done with multiplication and division too.

2. Facts of Life: You will need a deck of cards, with the face cards taken out. This is a card game that the kids can play in groups of two to four. It is a lot like the card game WAR. You put down a basecard and that card stays throughout the game. Then each kid flips over a card from his/her pile. Let's say the basecard is a 4 and you flip a seven and I flip a five. You would say 7 + 4 = 11 and I would say 4 + 5 = 9. Then, you would take the cards because you had the higher sum. Keep playing until you have a winner. I have my kids play this game when they are done with their independent work.

3. Beachball Math: My kids LOVE this one. You need a beachball. Once you get your beachball, write numbers ALL over it with permanent marker. Then have the kids toss it to each other. Which ever two numbers their thumbs land on, they have to add together. Then, pass it on.

Math games
Posted by: Ally

I use cards to play math games like the above poster and dice too...for example, Two Dice Addition...Three Dice Addition...Two Dice Subtraction...then add a third die and make it add two then subtract the third (I make grids the kids fill in to "win" so the dice games have an end to them) Once these games get too easy, I add those many sided dice so they can try again with larger numbers.

You could try the "Box Cars and One Eyed Jackas" books...they have a ton of math games that reinforce math facts. My students find playing games much more enjoyable than only drills...of course there are the kids that LOVE drill practice too. I do a variation of that is called "Random Numbers"...I have a column of ten boxes and then give the students a "drill command" such as "add 3) then each time I say a number, they add three and fill that sum in the box. I have seen this put to tape too so the teacher does not have to be calling out numbers and the tape gets faster as the kids improve.

FIle folder games
Posted by: Ally

File folder games are generally cheap to make...Math Quest (the teacher's guide) has a lot of ideas for different math file folder games.

I make math games using those new Ziploc boxes. I have made two dice addition, three dice addition, two dice subtraction...I put the dice in the box, along with photocopies of a graph that the students record their answers on, plus a small stub of a pencil.

I also have bought erase off books and a set of white board pens. I take the books apart at the staples, so instead of one book, I have five or six, four sided pages...that way several kids can work at this centre at one time and they can exchange the pages as they finish with them.

Garage sales are a great place to pick up cheap games, puzzles and card games (you just have to make sure all the pieces are still together).

You could also include chalk in your survival kit...many classrooms have individual sized chalk boards that students can use. I use mine as a math centre, the kids pair up and make equations for each other to solve. But during indoor recess, they can use them to draw if they prefer.

And what about some coloring sheets, crosswords, word searchs can easily download some and photocopy them...make a little note for those receiving your kits that when they use them, they can download "fun" sheets that relate to their classroom theme.

I also have an art caddy, full of scrap paper, yarn and other odds and sodds that the kids can create could put together a mini art caddy in a large ziplock for each of your kits...more to give the idea than actually be an art caddy per se. Just raid any elementary school's recycling bin! (I also have tracers in my caddy and the kids love them and they are good fine motor practice...I cut out a lot of die cuts when I was in university from the educ centre but now any scrapbooking store has die cuts. Usually if you buy their paper, you can use the machines for free.)

Good luck with your project...Ally

math facts
Posted by: Joan

Asking parents to use flashcards at home to help their children master the facts is probably useless, as it will be drudgery for both parent and child. I know some students have been helped by those multiplication table songs. Perhaps you could send a tape (cheap to make a copy) home with a child and ask parents to see that he listens to it nightly. I teach fifth grade and have found that games are best for those who have trouble memorizing facts. There are many games using playing cards and dice. Here are a few I use:

#1-This is played by two people with a deck of cards with the jokers and face cards removed (or jack = 11 and queen = 12). Shuffle the deck and deal them all out face down. Each player flips over a card from his or her pile. The first player to call out the correct answer gets to collect two flipped over cards. If a player calls out the wrong answer the other player gets the cards. Players continue until all the cards have been flipped over. The winner is the player with the most cards at the end. This could be adapted so the parent does not compete to call out answers, but does get to keep the cards of incorrect answers by his/her child.
#2- Another card game is like the game "War". Each player (there can be more than two) flips two cards and has to call out the product of their two cards. The player whose cards make the highest product wins all four cards. If a player calls out an incorrect product, he loses his cards to the other player (whether his product was higher or not). If the two products are the same, they leave the cards out and flip two more until someone wins all of those cards. Play can continue until one player loses all his cards, but I usually just put a time limit on the game and the player with the most cards wins.

Dice work well because we usually teach the tables up to twelves and the sum of two dice is twelve.
(You can use variations of the card games, but give points instead.)
#1- Two or more players play with four dice. Players take turns rolling two dice (a two and a four would be a six), then the other two dice (a five and a six would be eleven). Then they multiply the two numbers (six times eleven) to find the product. If the product is 50 or greater, they get a point, if less than 50... no point. If they give the incorrect product, they lose a point. Play continues for a set amount of time. The player with the most points wins! My students love this game and it's great to listen to them. For example, they will roll a seven with the first two dice and I'll hear them saying, "Oh, I need at least an eight to get a point!". Also, I think they just like to roll dice.

Perhaps you could send card and dice game ideas home to parents and ask that they play them with their kids.

math games--unifix cubes
Posted by: Jessica

How about using math games that require counting objects? Last week, we played 2 games that make the kids count unifix cubes. Both games are from a book called Developing Number Sense using Unifix Cubes.

Game 1--Race to Make a Staircase
Object of the game is to build a staircase. (1 tower of 1 unifix cube, a tower of 2, a tower of 3, ...until a tower of 6. You stand them next to eachother so they look like stairs. This is a partner game. Player 1 rolls the dice and builds a tower of that many cubes. Player 2 does the same. They keep going until someone comletes a staircase of 6. If a player rolls a number they already have, they lose that turn.

Game 2--Race to Make 30. Similar object--using unifix cubes, make a long tower of 30. Each player rolls the dice and adds that number of cubes to the tower. This tower has to stay flat on the ground. Keep going until 30. Partner game.