Update: We hope that you are finding ways to keep you and your loved ones safe and healthy. We are being inundated with emails from districts, schools, teachers and parents who are looking for offline activities due to the fact that many families do not have the number of electronic devices needed for multiple children to do online learning while parents work from home. In response to this need we are compiling packets of materials for K-5th Grade which will be available for free download on the Subscriber Freebies page. We are also offering a 20% discount on all items in our eBook Store purchased online through April 20th. Use code Learnathome at checkout.
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:
- be an integral part of daily instruction for all students;
- provide meaningful, independent practice based on the standards, curriculum objectives and students’ needs;
- include a variety of activities differentiated to meet the needs of students;
- change regularly according to the needs of students;
- hold students accountable for the work in which they are engaged;
- allow teachers to assess students’ math skills, strategies and understandings.
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:
- communicate clear, explicit, high expectations and develop a
few non-negotiable rules established jointly by both you and
- be available to assist students during center time and reinforce appropriate behaviors;
- instruct, model and provide guided practice opportunities before placing new tasks in centers;
- hold very brief ‘mini lessons’ every day prior to children
going to centers focusing on how to use the equipment and materials, how
to share materials, how to take turns, put things away etc. During this
time you might have two students role-play the use of the materials
while others critique their efforts or model how to solve a problem
without teacher assistance (e.g. introduce the “Ask Three before Me”
strategy to encourage students to ask three different classmates to help
solve an issue during center time before coming to you with a problem).
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.
Types of Centers
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.
The possibilities for math center activities are endless. For examples of a range of activities to use in Centers see our Math Centers eBooks for K - 5th Grade. FREE sample centers can be downloaded on the Number, Geometry, and Measurement/Data pages for your grade level on our website.