When I first made my Common Core Math Centers, it was because I was in desperate need of something to use to teach the “new math standards” to my students. My state had adopted the CC standards, but at the time, teachers did not have any new materials to support them.
I was still learning how to make math time work in my classroom, and I hated how much time I spent prepping math centers every week. Not to mention how much time I had to spend teaching my class how to use the various centers. And then, they played the centers during Guided Math time…but I had no idea how they were doing. Were they using their time wisely? Were they getting the problems correct?
I decided to create some “simple” math centers that addressed the new standards, that were easy for me to prep and didn’t require me to explain how to use them every day. I put the standard on the top with a simple I can statement. (That year my district was big on having students explain what they were working on. They were doing a lot of pop up visits and would ask students, what are you learning? I realized having the I Can statement directly with the center would help students always understand the focus of their activity.)
After I made my third grade centers, I used them with my class. I had a a few copies of the centers cut apart and I put them each in quart sized bags. I passed out various centers to my class and decided to see what they would do with them without any directions.
Amazingly, they started coming up with ways to play them. There were ways I expected–matching, playing with a partner, but there were other ways that surprised me. One partner pair was playing memory. Another partner pair was playing Go Fish.
Since all of the math centers follow the same basic “matching” format I decided to let my students take turns sharing with each other how they liked to play the games.
These are some of my favorite ways to use them:
First, as independent practice during my math lesson. I give students the question sheet, and have them HAND WRITE their answers in their notebook. I walk around and check them, and THEN I give them the answer sheet to cut apart and glue over their handwritten answers.
Straightforward matching. You can put stickers or draw symbols on the back to make these self checking. If you don’t want to do that, you can have students record the problem and their answers on a sheet of paper (or in their math notebooks) to submit to you. It won’t really require “grading,” but you can easily skim through these to make sure they are on the right track.
If you don’t put matching symbols on the back, students can use the cards to play memory. They can also play Go Fish. Example with this game: If student is hold 64/8 they can ask their partner, do you have an 8? If not, partner says, “Go Fish” and student can pick up extra card from pile. If you like this way of playing, you can even copy the game twice to make extra cards.
One of the greatest things about these centers is the many ways you can use them. Letting students play these throughout the year is a great way to spiral review and keep the skills fresh in their head.
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