Math Centers provide an opportunity for students to practice and
apply skills and strategies taught within the classroom. While students
are engaged in purposeful centers, teachers have the opportunity to work
individually or with small, flexible groups to meet the individual
needs of students.
Centers should be designed to:
It is important to build a community of learners so that students will be able to work independently at centers since you will be engaged with other students during this time. When introducing Centers for the first time it is important to:
Students can be scheduled at centers using either a rotation system or a self selected system. When using a rotation system a designated amount of time is given to each center before students may move on to the next. Using a self selected system students move themselves through centers in a systematic way, using contracts or planning sheets to record what activities have been completed.
Looking for ways to incorporate more writing into your centers? Download copies of these Reflection Templates and have them available to students during Math Centers sessions.
Whenever possible center activities should be open-ended, allowing for
multiple responses to allow students to learn in their zone of proximal
development, and provide for a mixture of independent as well as paired
tasks. In order to encourage students to talk with one another, problem
solve together, and assist one another in their learning a center should
generally have between two and six students.
One of the most simple types of centers to set up in K-2 is the Math Book Talk Center. The Math Book Talk Center should be a cozy, inviting space where students can browse, explore, talk about and read a variety of reading materials with a math focus, including story books, concept books, nonfiction books with photographs, poems, chants, rhymes, and books on tape stored in clearly labeled tubs (Counting Books, Shape Books, Pattern Books etc.) for easy access. See our Counting Rhymes E-book for ideas on how to use Counting Rhymes in your Math Centers.
The possibilities for math center activities are endless. For examples of a range of open-ended activities see the Number, Geometry, and Measurement/Data pages for your grade level. K-3 teachers may also like to explore our center activities for counting, numeration, addition and subtraction, and multiplication and division which are aligned with the Early Childhood Assessment in Mathematics (ECAM).