Math Centers' Ideas

1. Estimation Station.......... One of the easiest ways to do this is to have a weekly estimation jar. Every week you could change the contents of the jar or the size of the jar. Sometimes put large objects and sometimes small. Let children examine the jar and write their estimations. You can go further by having them write a paragraph about "how" they got their guess. At the end of the week count the objects together or have the last center count them. Teach them some estimating skills. Also at the estimation station you can have them estimate the capacity of a container.Have a container and the material (clothespins). Have then make a prediction of how many and then actually fill the jar to check their predictions. Small manipulatives could be used for this and you could change the size of the container weekly.

2. I have an estimation and Venn diagram center which is changed every day. I found one week was too long, and if you do a "theme" for the estimation it can last 5 days (e.g. estimating the plastic small teddy bears... changes the size of container over 5 days). You can also ask questions like :"Yesterday the jar was full of plastic teddy bears. Today it is half full of teddy bears. How many teddy bears are in the half full jar?" I always write the questions this way like word problems. They write their estimate on a sheet, circle it and write their names next to it. The child with the closest estimate wins a prize. We always count the objects together and I use this as an opportunity of demonstrating division, multiplication etc. Some days I even ask them to write their estimations in their math notebooks and explain how they got their answer using words, numbers and pictures.

3. The Venn Diagrams can also be changed every day and then when you've got enough of them they can be placed at a Graphing center and children can each choose one Venn diagram to graph on their own. Venn Diagrams can also be made into a book and sent home each night with a different child. Most parents haven't a clue what a Venn diagram is. You can have a couple of incomplete venn's for parents to sign at the back of the book. Venn Diagram results can also be reported in the class newsletter.
P. S. Strongly recommend new primary teachers try this starting the first day. Just set the center up at a small table. You can cover a lot without having to do a lot of preparation or direct teaching.

4. Venn Diagrams - any easy way to make a versatile and portable Venn Diagram is to use air hose tubes from aquariums. The tubes are really cheap and you can buy connectors for them as cheaply. Make two circles using the tubes and you can overlap the circles and place the items in the appropriate place. These can be labeled with 3x5 cards. You can also have a group make a Venn diagram ( 2nd grade) and leave off the labels. Have other students look at the diagram and try to guess how it has been sorted.

5. I do a Venn diagram almost everyday as a warm-up when they come in. I have their names laminated with a magnet on the back and place on their lockers. I use the cute patterns you see on note pads that go with my class theme (ocean life, teddy bears, hockey pucks...)
I write a question of the day on the board and they put their name either inside or outside the circle (yes/no) to answer the question.This is a spring board for many math ideas and comparisons. My circle is a hoola hoop that I place on a shower hook and magnet man on my magnetic chalkboard (lucky me!)As the year goes on I add another hoola hoop for the Venn diagram. I was asked to get to three circles this year for first grade, but it wasn't happening. I have friends who say it works great with just confused the kids and me. No math major here.

6. Found this in an old book:
For addition problems with regrouping
Cut an egg carton in half:
Open it, on the side that is the top write a problem like
On the side where the eggs would be, students use chips to represent each number...So 2 chips in on egg section, 5 chips in the egg section next to it
then underneath, 4 chips, then 6 chips.
Students use chips in the sections to solve problem
Tell them the rule, if you have ten you trade...
You could also, on the egg section write a + sign and draw a line to represent where the answer goes.

7.Another center could be patterning. There are many activities that could be done with pattern blocks. Another source for centers is Box It or Bag It.

8. I've used Math Their Way for seven years and love it! After attending the first workshop,I felt I just had to have all the suggestions in place when school started and just about did myself in. My advice is to get the book, look it over, and then do your own thing! Several of our staff bought note pads (Carson Dellosa) and shared with each other so we all had approximately ten sets of work mats and then added our own ideas for manipulatives. For instance, with a crayon box workjob I added red and yellow straws cut into pieces (I got straws from Sonic for free), with a dog note pad I used small bone treats, with the apple tree note pad I used lima beans--one side spray painted red and the other side painted pink, and another one was Ariel (The Little Mermaid) note pad and I used a necklace of seashells(cut-apart) from a good will store for manipulatives. My "work jobs" are not as fancy as those in the book, but my kids love them. I will add more, if anyone wants them. I have forty-five work jobs in my classroom and I'd love to share them!

9. You could have a math literacy center that include literature and laminated activity cards. I'm thinking mostly of Marilyn Burns literature collections, there's K-3 and 4-6.

10. Another great resource for math center ideas for K-1 is the Math In My World book put out, I think, by Creative Teaching Press. It is divided into 5 sections: All About Me, Nature, Playground, Food & Nutrition, and something else, it might be Families. It also includes ideas on how to involve parents in each theme.

11. Since I teach first grade my all my centers would not be applicable, but the following might help and could be adapted:
1. Beat the calculator(credit to Chicago Math)
Materials: deck of math facts to be studied, calculator
Students work in pairs, one student uses the calculator, the other student uses their brain--turn over a card with math fact--the first to give the correct answer keeps the card--the winner is the student with the most cards--second game reverse roles.
2. Problem solving: a problem is posed/could be written on
note cards/or posted--children solve problem and using large drawing paper illustrate how the solved the
problem--procedure can be shared
3. Multiplication (or in my case addition and subtraction)
bingo--make your own cards or purchase game
4. Teacher Created Materials has a set of resources called
Science in a Bag, Math in a Bag etc. These were written with the intention of being homework/bring back to school and use--ideas, they can be adapted to the classroom and become center type activities--I have not done this yet--one of my goals for this year
5. tangram puzzles
6. tessellation's

12. Here is a center that my students enjoyed. I bought some wooden dowels. I had someone cut them in different lengths. I labeled each one A,B,C,..etc.The task was estimating. The students picked a dowel,estimated how long it was,measured it then looked at the letter and used the answer key to check their answer.The measurement used was inches. Another center is graphing.When we did it as a class,we used m&m,skittles or some other edibles.In the center, you can use different color buttons,different kinds of beans or different shape pasta.The students pick a container ,group the items then use graph paper to draw a graph to represent the items.What I like about this center is that it can accommodate several students at the same time all drawing each their own graphs in their group.Of course some students prefer working on their own graph. The drawing can be checked in a second and problems noted for small group reteaching later.

13. One other activity that I use is to make measurement boxes. I put several things in a shoe box. The student measure the objects and records the answer. I have the answers in the lid of the box. I show the students how to open the box, put the lid under the box and then measure. Another idea is to find petri dishes (the kind that the science teacher at the high school might have) that are divided into two sections. I have students put in beans of the number that we are working on and shake the dish and then write the equation. For example if we are working on 9, they would put in nine beans, shake and record 5+4=9, because there will be 4 beans on one side and 5 on the other, shake and record again. These dishes are great because they can be put on the overhead.

14. I just thought of another idea that I do. When I introduce "doubles", I have cloth bags with the following objects: a car, plastic insect, plastic spider, a picture of a hand, an egg carton, a calendar page, a box of 16 crayons, and a picture of a semi truck. Students reach into the bag and record a double, for example if they pick a car, they record 2+2=4, because there are 2 wheels on each side. The insect is 3+3 because of the legs etc. They love to work with the bags and will record answers over and over.

15. There is a new Math program out called Quest 2000. It has excellent ideas and they refer to their math centers as tubbing. They start with a whole class lesson and then reinforce math skills through 6 to 8 tubs. The ideas are amazing and the students love to get into the tubs.

17. Math Games---Commercial games such as Yahtzee, dominoes, chess, and bingo develop math and logic skills.

18. Money Activities: Children can sort, identify and graph coins. They can count by ones (pennies), fives (nickels), and tens (dimes). A set of money stamps is great for recording work. Using the stamp students can create money rebus stories.

19. Dollar Activities-There are 293 ways to change a dollar bill. Let the students use the money stamps to stamp out the different ways on butcher paper.

20. Set up a toy store or mini grocery store.

21. Graph of the day is a great center to have at a math center. Examples are:
Favorite Subjects
Favorite Sports
Pets You Have
Letters in Your Name
Let the children decide on some graphs.

22. Fractions-- Have manipulatives to explore fractions as equal parts of a whole. Provide paper shapes and graph paper to fold and cut. Have things like coins, buttons, crayons, counters for finding equal parts of a set.

23. Measurement-Have students use measuring cups to measure rice to fill containers ½, ¼, 1/3 full. Measuring spoons can also be used to explore equal measures.

24. Math in a Bag-Lunch bags can be used to put different math activities in. These are especially useful if you have games with many pieces. Students pour out the activity and then place it back in the bag when complete.

25. Math Geo Safari-- Expense here, but can be used for individualizing skills and fast practice.