Elementary Math Centers: Fun Ideas for Teachers

Math centers can be a fun way for students to gain independence in the classroom while reinforcing the concepts taught in class. Create a few different centers and have your elementary students circle around the room, completing all the activities in groups. Read on for classroom management tips and sample centers.

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How to Successfully Run Math Centers in the Classroom

Math centers allow students to explore a topic by participating in hands-on activities. In a typical classroom, there can be between 4-6 math centers at a time. The activities should be straightforward enough so that children can complete them without direct adult supervision. At the same time, the activities should be fun and interesting enough to hold the students' attention.

Math centers work the best if they're used after direct instruction to reinforce what the students just learned. Although you as the teacher can circulate around the room, the students should be working mostly on their own. For this reason, students working in a math center should have a firm understanding of the math concept that was just taught.

Create groups of students who can work well together. Although the students should have fun, they also need to learn and complete the activity. In addition, consider grouping advanced students with below-average students because the below-average students may benefit by learning from a peer.

Elementary Math Center by Topic

Measurement

During a measurement unit, one group can complete a scavenger hunt. Give the group a ruler and a list of different lengths, such as one foot or 3.5 inches. Together, the group will have to find objects that match the lengths on the list.

Multiplication

Students can play review games on their own in groups or in pairs at the center. Make the game by creating problem and solution cards. For example, a problem card might be 8 x 8 and the matching solution card is 64.

Instruct students to turn all the cards face down and select two cards at a time. If the cards match, the player gets to keep them. If the cards don't match, the player has to flip them back over and try to remember the location for later turns. The student with the most cards at the end of the game wins.

Fractions

After learning how to multiply fractions by whole numbers, give one center a simple recipe that makes one serving. Ask students to convert the measurements so that the recipe makes three servings. This activity requires students to practice multiplying fractions by a whole number. For instance, if the recipe requires 1/4 of a cup of sugar, multiply 1/4 by 3 (1/4 x 3 = 3/4). The new measurement is 3/4 of a cup of sugar.

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