If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you know I am a huge fan of math centers. I want to share my number one tip for how I make math centers work in my classroom. Drumroll please…
Keep centers consistent or as consistent as possible.
That is it. Keeping at least the majority of your centers consistent with similar tasks and activities will make all the difference with management and time on task. Here is why this works:
- The students know what to expect, and behavior management is amazingly easier to handle. There is absolutely no excuse for students to misbehave because they know exactly what to do and how to do.
- It allows the focus to be on the content and not on learning a new center or set of directions each day or week.
- It saves time. It saves time when students first begin the center because they already know the directions. It saves you time because you do not have to spend part of your math instruction time reviewing and teaching the centers for that week.
- It saves your teacher sanity. When I made my centers more consistent, it was the best thing I could have ever done. Hands down.
I keep my centers consistent by finding activities, resources, apps, or online resources that cover all the standards! That may sound hard, but it is definitely not. I use SplashMath (a paid but affordable app) for my technology center. I have task cards as a center, and task cards are everywhere now. I created my roll and answer math centers (Grab some freebies here!) to have a forever partner game where only the content changes. I also have choice boards and math sorts (more about these in a minute!) that cover all the standards.
Consistent Math Center Options
Here are some choices for centers that are low-prep, engaging, and consistent:
Word Problem Center: Use any word problem found or purchased online or created by the teacher in this center. See some super engaging word problem spinners here.
Paper and Pencil Center: The students know that this is always some type of independent practice found on paper. I do use my mini- review booklets to keep it a little new and engaging for the students. I also use Error Analysis Math Tasks in this center, and the students love them! See the error analysis tasks HERE and the mini-review booklets HERE.
Task Card Center: Task cards are a staple center in my classroom. They are perfect for providing that much needed practice in an engaging format. See third grade task cards HERE, 4th grade task cards HERE, and 5th grade task cards HERE.
Partner Game Center: I always have at least one partner center in my math center rotation. I tend to stay away from small group centers and have found that two students working together is the perfect number. I use my Roll and Answer Math Centers to keep the games consistent. The focus is on the content and not learning a new game each week.
Computer or Tablet Center: I have used Xtramath for math facts and Vmathlive (paid site through my district) for the computer and Splashmath (paid, but affordable, app) for the tablets.
Choice Board Center: Choice boards work as a separate center or as an early finisher activity. One board could last an entire week and be due on Friday. Read more about my math choice boards (and grab some free ones) here.
Math Sorts Center: Math sorts are a perfect way to bring in some hands-on math practice into your math rotation. Keep reading to grab some free math sorts to get you started with consistent math centers!
Math Journaling Center: Math journal prompts are a great way to get the students writing and thinking about math on a consistent basis
Math Centers FREEBIE
To help you implement consistent centers, I have a freebie for you! Math sorts are a new favorite math center of mine. Since I have created sorts for all the standards, I can use these throughout the year in my math centers. The directions never change; only the content changes. So, when the students see these in their center, know exactly what to do. These sorts can be used as interactive notebook sorts or even as a file folder game.
I compiled some of my favorite sorts from each grade level into one big freebie download of 9 math sorts! Use them all or choose only your grade level. Click on the button below to snag these freebies today!