Math centers. Just those two words alone cause some teachers to panic. What will the students do? How much prep work will be involved for me? How many centers will I have? Will my classroom turn into utter chaos? How will I group my students? What will I do?! The list could seriously go on and on…
But today let’s get into some of the logistics of math centers. Specifically, let’s talk about getting started with math centers.
Plan Your Math Centers
Before you can have success with your math centers, you need to plan out what you’re going to do. How many centers will you have? Will your centers change each week, or will they look relatively similar? How will students rotate between centers? A little forward thinking on your part before starting centers can go a LONG way!
Get More Specific
Now that you know how many math centers you’ll have and how students will rotate between them, it’s time to decide exactly which math centers your students will be enjoying. Here are five ideas you could use:
- Spiral Review Center – There are so many great spiral review printables that this would make an easy center! If your students only do one center a day, it would be easy to keep up with the grading as well.
- Problem Solving Center – Come up with some type of problem your students need to solve each day. You may even want to incorporate a sort of STEM challenge into this on occasion.
- Math Games – Kids love games! (Don’t we all?) So it only makes sense that at least one center should be fun! Get started with a few Magic Square Puzzles for free here.
- Technology Center – With the number of schools that have technology right at their fingertips, it only makes sense to have one center be dedicated to technology! Curate a list of great math sites early on in the school year and you’ll be set!
- Teacher Center – Pull students one day a week to work on skills specific to them. You’ll be amazed at the growth your sweeties will show when they get some 1:1 math attention!
Prep Your Math Centers
Now that you know what your math centers are going to look like, you can start prepping for them. Depending on the grade level, this may mean cutting and prepping games. There are a lot of great options out there for teachers at all grade levels. You can do a search for free math games on Teachers Pay Teachers, scour Pinterest, or check out all of my math Magic Square Puzzles.
Set Up the Area
We all know that math centers can take up a LOT of space! So figure out where you’re going to put all of your materials. Better yet, figure out how to set everything up so your students can help you make cleaning up and managing your materials a breeze!
With all of the work you’ve put into thinking through your math centers to begin with, things should go off without a hitch! Thoroughly explain your expectations. Practice them. Practice them some more. Give reminders, and get started! You may have a few bumps and bruises as you begin, but if you’ve followed the five steps in this post, getting started with math centers should be a relatively painless experience!
Remember you can check out all of my math Magic Square Puzzles here. Then simply sort by grade level on the left-hand side to see only the resources (and freebies) you need!