February 19, 2012

Math Center Central

So... math centers.

We have a love-hate relationship.

 I LOVE that they provide my kiddos with tons of hands-on practice.

I HATE that I have to come up with new centers and then make them.

And, I'll just go ahead and confess right now that I am NOT a fan of all these centers that you buy online and then have to sit and cut and laminate. I think it's a lot of work for something they only use a little while. And, my kids get bored with them.

I came up with a math center plan this year. It's not perfect... but, I can say that I've sent my kids to a differeniated math center most days this year for at least 25 minutes. So, it's certainly a step-up from years past! Ha.

Here are some of the activities that we've used this year in math centers. I've taken these pics over the course of the last few months. (And, FYI, I DID NOT come up with all if this stuff on my own. Some of it I did, but some of it came from blogs and pinterest.)

One component of our math centers is math journals. I didn't want to have 12 different centers I had to keep up with. So, I have 5 centers and then the rest of the kids go to computer or math journals. (This has changed a little the last few weeks.) The math journals are differentiated by ability and there is a place for them to draw a pic, write a number sentence and explain how they solved the problem.

This is how they store their problems in their journal. This friend is clearly not done, ha! They have a sheet of directions and they also have a "cheat sheet" with addition words and subtraction words behind it.

This is what the lower students' journals look like. Much simpler.

One center we did was use buttons and ten frames to make number sentences. One partner would put some buttons on the ten frame... and the other partner had to write the number sentence on a marker board.

This idea came from The First Grade Parade. She did this for Halloween. I just made it a little more generic so we could use it longer. And, we've used it a loonnggg time! I've moved this little center around to where pretty much every group has gotten to use it. And, they all love it! They basically just take addition problems on popsicle sticks and put them into a cup with the correct sum. They use our little homemade bead counters to help them out. (Well, they did at the beginning of the year.)

I have three extremely low little friends who have needed a lot of practice with just counting. So, I took 12 plates and wrote the numbers from 1-12 on them. Then, I gave them a bag of buttons and let them practice putting the amount in the plate.

I try to utilize some of the store-bought puzzles and things I've bought over the years. This one in particular is a favorite because it has subtraction on one side and subtraction on the other. I think it was like $6 at TJ Maxx - can't beat that!

Okay, the kids LOVED this one! I made some little cards about three years ago with some circles and blank addition sentences on them. So, I got some blue and orange pom-poms. The kids put some orange and some blue in the circles. Then, they have to write the number sentence.

Okay, this came from Lory Evans' page. The kids roll a dice and then subtract it from 10. I've printed off several of her activities and they are FABULOUS! Oh, and I also tried using self-laminating sheets for these centers. And, I will NEVER AGAIN laminate a center with just regular laminating. These are much sturdier and they clean a lot better!

I've been letting my lower kids use stickers to help solve their math journal problems. Just a fun way to get them into math. And, a great way to use up some of my two million stickers, ha.

I printed off some "Make Your Own" word problems from Lory's page, too. The kids love them because they are full of popular characters from a lot of the books we've read. And, some we haven't. Let's just say I've been reading a lot of word problems about Voldemort and Harry Potter :)

This idea came from here via pinterest. I think it's great practice for place value!

I look back on the centers (math and literacy) I've done in past years that I had to change every. single. week. I stayed at school every single Friday night and switched out all my centers. And, honestly? Those centers weren't any better than my centers now. They were actually worse because they weren't differentiated a bit!

I think that if you are differentiating your centers and if you are making them fun for your kids to do, you DO NOT have to change them that often! I change my math centers about once a month. My kids have never once told me they didn't want to do one or acted bored at their centers. Since they are on their level, they are being challenged and feel successful every day.

Well, I'm off to watch some Real Housewives of Atlanta. When did Kim become the most normal person on that show?

Thanks for stopping by!


Ms. Corley said...

I love your ideas for math centers as I desperately need to differentiate. I teach first grade and have a class of 9 students (lucky, I know). Anyway, thus far everything has been whole group. I am doing journals and liked the little I saw from your pictures. Would you be able to photograph the various parts of your math journal and post it? I would love to see what else you are doing and tweek mine! Thank I love your blog!