Growing up, math was always my favorite subject as a student. Now as a teacher, it’s one of my most challenging areas to teach. I am always looking for more ways to differentiate my Math Centers and create fun and engaging mini-lessons. Over the last three years, I have slowly but surely come up with a system that works for both me and my students. Here is an overview of the five stations I use during my Math Centers in First Grade, and what each station entails!
1 – Teacher Time
This center is a staple for most teachers. It is the center where we meet with our students in a small group setting. Personally, this feels like the easiest center to differentiate based on student needs. I love teacher time with my students because it gives me a glimpse of what they are comprehending, and what they still need support in. I typically have students do a warm-up activity, followed by a lesson that is catered to their needs. Some students may need a review of previously learned skills, while other students are ready to move on to more challenging concepts within that skill.
BONUS TIP: In order to make this center as productive as possible, I try to keep students engaged by making our time together hands-on, with the use of manipulatives, whiteboards, and other interactive materials.
2 – Tech Time
This center is where students can participate in technology. In my classroom, tech time is orchestrated on our classroom iPads but could be adapted with the use of smartboards, chrome books, etc. Using technology during centers promotes student independence, and it is a center that many of my students look forward to! There are very many different apps that are student-friendly and can be utilized for this center. My personal favorite is Splash Math!
3 – Fact Fluency for Math Centers
A skill that I emphasize in my classroom is fact fluency. By the end of first grade, I want my students to be able to solve twenty addition facts in one minute. There are so many different centers out there to practice this skill (One of my favorites being ETTC’s Addition Math Facts Practice Activities )! Your students might be working on a different area of fluency–subtraction, multiplication, etc. This is an easy center to take and make your own!
4 – Partner Game
This center is another fan favorite in our classroom. Partner games are a great way for students to practice and reinforce learned skills, while also practicing social skills with their peers. They promote more than just the mathematical skill they focus on. Partner games offer excellent natural exposure to skills such as turn-taking and cooperation. TIP: If you’re not sure where to start with partner games, or how to organize them, I highly suggest File Folder Games!
BONUS TIP: I try and keep rotations fifteen minutes or shorter. This allows students to play at least one round of the partner game. Students know that if they finish, they can play again!
5 – Rockin’ Math Centers Review
Last, but not least, we have a center called Rockin’ Review. This center is exactly what it sounds like–an opportunity for students to review and focus on a previously learned skill. I often find that many of the units we learn in first grade build on each other. For example, students may learn about addition within ten during the first trimester of school, but later will need these skills to then learn addition within twenty, word problems, etc. Making an effort to review previously learned skills keeps concepts fresh in student minds! You can find all of the review activities you need with these no prep math centers.
As you head into the upcoming school year, I encourage you to use the centers you think would work best in your classroom, and make changes based on what your students need and will benefit from most. And as always, be clear about the expectations of your math centers, model everything, and be consistent!
Written by – Sarah Poquette
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