Math Centers

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Small group instruction and centers are at the heart of the Workshop Model. We all know students learn best when they are engaged in the lesson, take control of their own learning, and are given the opportunity to explore and discover at their own pace and at their unique level. So it makes perfect sense that we follow the Workshop Model of Instruction and deliver 15-20 minute mini-lessons followed by small groups and centers.Yet, why is it that so many of us spend the majority of our lesson teaching in whole groups? The answer varies but I believe it comes down to timing and the fear of ” How am I going to prepare all those centers, activities, games, and small group differentiated lessons every day?”

This year our school is focusing on small group instruction and centers – mainly in Language Arts and Math. It has been a rough couple of weeks getting used to the time crunch of making sure our mini-lessons are short but strategic and to the point. Teachers at my school are spending the majority of the day teaching in small group settings. They have been spending an incredible amount of time planning each mini-lesson, small group lesson, and creating differentiated centers. I can already see the joy and anticipation in the students’ faces waiting for their turn at their next center or to meet the teacher for a small group lesson. As a math coach I get to visit classrooms and assist teachers and as a major reward I get to sit with kids and share in their love of learning,

Here are some of the activities I have seen our students do in the last few weeks:

This activity is to practice rounding. Instead of boring worksheets, students have a set of cards with 3 and 4 digit numbers. They use a spinner to round numbers to either the nearest ten, hundred, or thousand. Playing in a team of 2 adds extra fun and it becomes a game. Who doesn’t like playing games as part of their learning?

There is also a separate game using a game board called “Corn Maze Place Value Race”,where students use a set of cards which requires them to write numbers in word, expanded, or standard form. They roll a die to move certain number of steps. This one is also played in groups of 2-4. The winner is the first person to reach the End on the game board. Kids loved playing this game!

Fall Themed Math Centers


These actvities and center games were created by me. I share them with the teachers at my school and get tremendous joy watching them “play” while they master the skills needed to move to the next level. These center games are perfect for grade 3 and have a fall theme.

They include the following games:

-Apple Picking Subtraction
-Pumpkin Fun Addition
-Corn Maze Place Value Race
-Easy as Pie Rounding
-Plentiful Harvest Word Problems

You can get these activities and all the other ones shown on the picture above here


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