7 Math Centers Ideas to Make Math Easy

Many teachers know how to teach math but getting math centers down takes a lot of classroom management, forethought, and modeling centers beforehand.


With math, at centers, I do it a little different, almost like I do with the guided reading group, except I have a math group.


How daily math time works

Usually I start with a group math lesson, starting with an activity (making numbers in the air, dancing and counting, or a quick problem solving activity). Click here to see the math videos I use often.


I then pull a group, usually consisting of 4-6 students. Usually I will walk around and gently tap the kids on the shoulder and ask them to come to my table. At my table, I am doing some kind of activity that is really focused on what they need.


Everyone else in the class has a choice about what to do. This goes a long way in making the class run easier, when you provide the choice for the students they take ownership, which most of the time the behaviors take care of themselves because they are getting a choice.

📌THIS IMAGE FOR LATER


The first thing everyone starts on the computer which has two things that I really love. Boom cards and Seesaw.


Boom Cards for Math Centers

I really love Boom Cards because I can assign the cards based on the students needs. This makes it very easy to differentiate, plus they don't really understand that they are doing different activities. Boom cards are free to use, I like the fast pins best for practicing math. Since most kids have anxiety when they don't get the answer correct or they believe that they are not doing the right thing, they just want to quit. When it's just for fun and they think it is a game, they don't have that anxiety.

Boom cards for math centers teach magically
Click to try a free preview of  Boom Cards


Seesaw Math Activities for Centers

I have a set of Seesaw 3D Shapes that are loaded and ready with questions and sorting.

I am a seesaw ambassador so please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or need any help please don’t hesitate to ask. Also I have some other amazing Seesaw activities on Teach Magically.



Stations for Math Centers

I will also have stations set up around the room, this is not the typical station you think of, it is a space that has more than one activity so there is another choice there.


When they are not with me and are done working on the computer, they can go to the stations for more activities.

1. Block Station

One station that I use is a block station, usually I have two of these since blocks are such a huge hit in kindergarten. I have big blocks like the big pattern blocks and also a small lego station. When they get there they can choose between a few different activities for both the big blocks and the small legos. Usually there is never a problem, they know which activity they want to do, they can stay there the entire time and build cities or towers which really works their math skills.

Blocks at math centers teach magically



2. Llego Station


For the little lego station I have a bigger container of legos. They can use these to create anything that they want.


I have run into situations where the student will then want to keep what they built there for the next time or take it home with them. This takes a lot of encouragement and modeling on how they have to break it apart or be prepared that someone else may use it.

math center with legos teach magically

If the student can not think of something to build, I will combine social studies into the legos. We will talk about the community, make a big map with paper, and build and color in the roads. Their job is to take those legos and build the community (houses, bakery, post office, Walmart, etc.) 

3. Puzzle Station


Another example is a puzzle station, where I have regular puzzles which help to build their discrimination skills and math problem solving skills.


I have tangrams that I get from the dollar store and they come with the boards.

Tangrams in centers teach magically
I also have some simple shape puzzles that they can work on, they basically just match the pattern onto the puzzle. 

Pattern Block Pictures for Math Centers Teach Magically
Pattern Blocks
4. Writing in Math

I also have a writing center. It's the same writing center we use during reading time. At this center they can write numbers, either from 1-100 or they can write any number that they would like. The fun part is they have to draw shapes to match the number that they wrote. They can draw a number story and write it.

📌THIS IMAGE FOR LATER


When they write a number story in math, they are not focusing on the words. They could write 6 butterflies and 4 birds, so they would draw that and then write 6+4=10. Again you are giving them a choice which they love.


One other option is tracing, I have the pattern block tracing templates, worksheets, and shapes.

Student tracing triangle while kneeling Teach Magically

I do have these laminated number writing worksheets so they can write on them with a white board marker. These templates are differentiated, I have some that have the dots and then the lines to help them with tracing, some that have just the dots, and some that are blank. They are able to practice based on their own needs and it also helps their fine motor skills. I have a different set by month so I just change the cards. I don't need to explain and teach a new game.

Writing numbers in math centers teach magically
Click to see the BUNDLE

As long as they are doing anything with numbers and writing, it fits into this station.


5. White Board Station


I will also use my whiteboard to put a number path on, the students will have to take the number path down and put it back in order. Then match numbers on it. Another choice is for them to write directly on the whiteboard. Since they are standing, they are writing on a vertical plane, which will help their handwriting skills and their core strength. 


Once again, I have sets based on the month or theme so I don't have any teaching to do. I just switch out the cards and the kiddos think it's a new game. It's always amazing to see how excited they are!

writing on white board  for math centers teach magically
All My Number Paths

6. Reading Station

Another option is a reading center which is the same place as the reading center for reading but we are using it for math time. Click here to see some Number Books to use with math. We like to call this math time reading. There are lots of math books to choose from. I also like to set up some pattern blocks and of course some activities to choose.


📌THIS IMAGE FOR LATER
Reading books at math centers Teach Magically


One activity that I like to use has them writing and reading a sentence on the bottom of the page, then they are putting in the pattern blocks so they are counting, and coloring. When I set this up, I like to attach the paper to a clipboard so they can sit on a bean bag chair or lay on their bellies to read and work on their fine motor skills.

 

7. Game Station


One last station, I have is a game station. I love to use the simple games with the students.


The first is just dot cards. These are cards that have dots and the idea is they have to play memory. They will lay the cards down, turn over two cards, and find the matching numbers. If they are working with a partner which helps with taking turns. I do teach them how to do this game in my group before they are allowed to do it alone.

Math Domino Game Teach Magically
Click for Game

We also like to play the bean game, it is just two sided beans that are painted different colors. You just shake them up and put them down and talk about the number you had. Usually we have a whole table or an area to work on. If we are really working on the number 4, they can use the entire tin, shake up 4 beans and then say what it lands on (1 is red 3 are white, shake 4 more, 2 are red 2 are white). Now they have to fill up the entire space in order to work on those math fluency skills.

Bean game from Teach Magically
Click to get game.

I will also keep a bin with building blocks that they can count. One of their favorite things with this activity is to connect all of the blocks together and then measure with it. They measure the carpet, each other, or even me! Measuring is a great activity and helps with a lot of math skills. 


Nonstandard units of measure Teach Magically

Center Information

There are choices in each one of the centers which really helps take away that power struggle. Kids will do a lot better when they get to choose instead of you telling them what to do.


To make this work seamlessly there are only one or two students at each one of those stations at a time. So if they are not assigned there or it is not their turn then they can keep working on the computer. The stations I have all the time are the legos, the big blocks, and the writing station. Having consistent stations prevents me from wanting to pull my hair out.


I also try to rotate them from the computer to my table to the stations. I used to attempt 3-4 students at a station at one time, it usually always led to fighting or disagreements. 


Always to remember with centers.

  • Only have 1-2 students at a time in each station.
  • Provide choices 
  • Pre-teach all games before they go to centers 
  • Have choices that never change 

Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions or need help with math centers. Have a great day and remember to Teach Magically!

💖Debora


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