Math centers are a very important part of the math block but you must have enough math center activities to keep your students engaged all year. The math center activities should be fairly independent and it’s ideal if they are hands-on, engaging, and self-correcting when possible.
Variety of Options
Earlier it was mentioned that my math center groups are not grouped according to their ability level. Instead, I use flexible grouping. So, that means when my students are working on their math center choices, it’s important that they have a variety of levels of skills to choose from. The other key to smooth and effective centers is to choose centers that the students know how to play. Bottom line, this can be achieved by choosing math centers that your students know how to play and the only thing that changes is the skill. Let me explain.
Math Fact Fluency Center
Every week I have a math fact fluency center. Sometimes, this is their math fact fluency sticks, other weeks it’s flashcards, but most of the time it is our classroom board games. When they are playing a board game, they are playing the game like it’s meant to be played with one exception. Before they are allowed to take their turn, they have to answer 5 math facts on flashcards. This number is not important. You can choose 10 cards if you prefer. The point is, they are practicing their math facts and practicing social skills through the use of our classroom board games.
Math Fact Fluency Sticks
Another option for math fact fluency centers is math fact fluency sticks. This option is great because the kids have their math fact fluency sticks ready to go in their desk and the math facts that they are working on are specific to them. You can see more about math fact fluency sticks in the video below.
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Toothy™ is another option that we have out during math centers. You can read more about Toothy™ in this post. Toothy™ includes 42 different sets of math skills and they are easily differentiated. There are both printable and digital versions. Toothy™ is completely independent, self-paced, and self-correcting. Students are loving Toothy™ and teachers are loving it too because the rules stay the same but the skill changes. This is a perfect option for math centers because once they learn to play during those launching days, they are set for the entire year. If you want to try out a free sample of Toothy™ click HERE!
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Math puzzles are another popular option for math centers because they are an independent, self-correcting option as well. Each month there are 10-15 different puzzles to choose from and the math puzzle bundle has puzzles for the entire year. The skills progress in complexity through the year but also provide different levels of complexity to allow for differentiation. Math puzzles also have a recording sheet for accountability.
The puzzles are available in full color, black and white, student scrambled (for their notebooks), and editable. These are kept in their math center folder.
For more information about math center folders and a free down math centers resources to download check out this post.
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An easy way to implement technology into the classroom is during math centers. Whether your students are using iPads, Chromebooks, or computers there are many free options out there for you students to use during math centers. This post includes some free apps and websites. If you haven’t had a chance to try Digital Math Toothy this is a great time to give it a look! It’s no-prep and very simple to assign to your students. Click here for a free download.
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Math Notebooks are an important component of our math block. Sometimes we use them during our independent practice and sometimes we use them during math centers. All of my students keep a math notebook in their table baskets. The supplies for the math notebook are found in the center basket. Once the student has finished the activity (also known as the input side), they can complete the output side of the notebook where they are explaining their thinking, drawing models, and creating and solving their own math problems that pertain to the skill.
Monthly Math Centers
Monthly math centers are a student favorite! This resource comes with 120 different math centers that are hands-on, engaging, and fun. For details on the skills included in each month check out the posts below:
All math centers come with a recording sheet for accountability and answer key for easy correcting. I keep each math center in a file folder with the direction sheet on the outside and the recording sheets and activity pieces inside. All of this is put inside of a ziplock bag to keep everything together. To see a list of skills that are included in this resource, click on the links below.