Simplify Your Math Centers

Math centers are a large component of guided math, but in order to differentiate and meet the needs of our students on a daily basis, creating and keeping up with math centers can be so time consuming.  So, how can you simplify math centers in order to make them realistically manageable?  Here’s my solution:  GO DIGITAL!

Technically, what constitutes a math center?  Math centers provide opportunities for student to practice skills that have been previously taught.  That's it!  

There are an abundance of printable math center available.  I love them, because I just love making things cute.  What I have noticed though, is that I can’t keep up with the demands of putting them together.  I have to print them, cut them out, laminate them (I don’t want to have to start the process over again), and then store them.  It’s all so time consuming, and I always feel that I’m behind.  

I’ve discovered that creating and implementing math centers does not have to be difficult, and that’s why I’ve gone digital.  Do you have a SmartBoard?  Maybe one tablet or iPad?  A Chromebook?  Maybe you’re even lucky enough to have a classroom that is 1:1 with technology.  No matter what level of technology you have, you can make it work!  

Below are 5 ways to make digital math centers work for you.  

1.  Use Google Classroom to assign students these digital math centers.  These math centers are highly engaging and include 10 interactive math centers per topic.  Not only do you receive the math centers, but they also include a digital and printable recording booklet, and answer key.  Everything you need to implement centers that you can easily differentiate!  

Check out a free preview here:

For the full resource click below:

2.  Quizziz:  Quizziz is similar to Kahoot, but it allows students to work self-paced.  Create “quizzes” for students to practice the skills that you have previously taught.  

3.  GoConqr:  Use this site to create flashcards and interactive quizzes.  You can make these activities timed or untimed.  

4.  Digital Task Cards:  Who doesn’t love task cards?  The digital version takes task cards to a whole new level.  Save time, money, and space!  Use the PDF version or assign the Google Slides version on Google Classroom so that you can add and/or delete task cards that you want specific students to complete.  Differentiation at its easiest!

Check out these digital math task cards!

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5.  Free interactive math games are a dime a dozen.  Assign specific games via Math Games, Hooda Math, or Splash Math.  Students will love them all!

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Geometry Activities Students Love!

When it comes to math, geometry seems to be in a whole different league. Some kids fall in love with it instantly, while it seems challenging for other kids. One of the great things about geometry is that there are so many hands on activities we can provide for our students, which makes it lots of fun!

Here are some of my favorite geometry activities:

1. Start With Shapes
I like to have students start with shapes they've known since they were tiny, like triangles, squares, and circles. We draw these on whiteboards as a whole class. Next we draw the more advanced shapes like pentagons, hexagons, octagons, trapezoids, and even the rhombus! This brings us to a discussion of polygons and we can classify shapes that way.

Besides whiteboards, there are lots of ways for kids to work with shapes, like Popsicle sticks (which are also great to use to illustrate lines like parallel, intersecting, and perpendicular), LEGOS, Geoboards, and even clothespins which can be clipped together. 

2. Marshmallow Geometry
I like this activity because any time you add food, kids are all in! Using marshmallows and toothpicks, kids can make simple 2-D shapes, and also 3-D shapes. Plus, this activity is the perfect place to emphasize vertices since each time you add a marshmallow, you place it at a corner. If you have food allergies or school regulations which prohibit food, you can substitute the marshmallows for Play-Doh.

3. Use an Anchor Chart
Once students have had lots of exploration time with shapes, it's time to discuss their attributes. I like to actually make this anchor chart with the kids' help. I explain how it will be organized, from the smallest number of sides to the greatest. We also notice patterns of sides and vertices as we create it. I do ask kids for examples of shapes, and sometimes they get really creative with this!

4. Go on a Shape Scavenger Hunt
This is an activity which is great to do with some parent helpers if you have any. I like to send iPad cameras with each group, clip boards and pencils, and a record sheet. Kids record the shape that was found, the type of object it was, and where it was found. It's really fun to see what shapes they're able to find while walking around the school campus!

5. Incorporate Some Art
I am a huge art proponent so I add art wherever it fits in. Geometry is a great time to do either geometric animals, robots, or people. I usually choose one of those categories but really you could make it a wide open project too!

I shared another fun geometric art activity on a blog post I wrote called Incorporating Art in the Classroom. This one is from Literacy Loves Company. As a follow up to geometric lessons on lines and angles, I cut polygons from white construction paper for each child. I have kids use rulers and sharpies and follow my step by step directions of drawing lines and then finding obtuse angles, right angles, perpendicular lines, and so on. After the lesson is done, kids add color to these, making it a really fun art piece. 

6. Add Some Kinesthetic Learning
Kids need movement and it's easy to add some movement with this unit. For this activity, students will be on the floor working with a partner to make different kinds of lines (parallel, intersecting, and perpendicular), shapes, and angles (right, acute, and obtuse) using their bodies. An alternative is to have kids stand up and use their arms to illustrate these geometric concepts.

Another kinesthetic activity is to gather Chinese jump ropes or packages of sewing elastic. If you use elastic, one package is enough for one small group of 5 - 6 kids. The idea is to have students use the elastic as a group to make the shapes you call out (types of triangles are especially good) or types of angles. Different kinds of lines can also be made if two groups work together.

7. Add Some Task Cards and Games
Task cards are one of my go to tools! Kids love the game-like format and I know that they're getting really focused learning on whatever math concept we're working on. I have used them as centers/stations, for whole class math time, for one on one, and as exit slips.

If you'd like some pre-made math task cards specifically for geometry, click here;
3rd Grade Geometry Bundle
4th Grade Geometry Bundle
5th Grade Geometry Bundle

8. Read Mentor Text
I love it when I can tie reading into math too! The books above are some of my favorite mentor texts for geometry. I love all of the visual examples included.

9. Use Music
I just found these songs by Numberock on YouTube and they are perfect for this unit! Really great pictures and catchy tunes:
Parallel, Perpendicular and Intersecting Lines
Types of Triangles

10. Practice Angles
Seriously, next to long division, measuring angles is probably the most difficult math skill students will face in the elementary years! It doesn't help too that it is introduced in fourth grade in common core and then not even mentioned in 5th grade standards. Oh well!

One activity which helps is to have kids use graph paper and write their first name in all capital block letters. Students can measure any angles created by the intersection of the letter's lines.

Another favorite activity for practicing angles is to take tape and make different lines, which create angles on a desk, table, or even on sheets of butcher paper. Kids use protractors to measure angles and then write with expos (or markers on the butcher paper) right on the desks/tables! Great way to add some fun to this difficult concept!

Hope you've found at least a few ideas you can use for your geometry unit! I did want to let you know that I have Math Task Card Bundles for every grade from 3rd - 5th. Each bundle has 30 sets of 32 task cards which cover ALL STANDARDS (CCSS) for those grades. I love prepping them at the beginning of the year and then grabbing whatever concept we're working on for some added practice.

If you'd like to take a look:
3rd Grade Math Task Cards Bundle
4th Grade Math Task Cards Bundle
5th Grade Math Task Cards Bundle

Thanks so much for stopping by! If you like this post, I would love it if you would pin it or share it with a teacher friend!

I'd love to connect with you!

5 Reasons to Use Motivational Posters in Your Classroom

For the past several years, instead of posting a list of rules in my classroom, I have used motivational posters. Not only do they make a pretty bulletin board that can be left up year around, there are several other reasons why using motivational posters in your classroom can be a benefit to your students.

1. Motivational posters provide students with a positive message. Rather than posting a list of behaviors that students should not do, motivational posters provide students with examples of positive behaviors, and these posters can help to reinforce the positive behaviors that students should strive to have.

2. Motivational posters make a great morning routine. Simply choral read, or have a student in charge of reading the motivational posters each morning. This is another way to motivate students each morning to be their best.

3. Motivational posters can be used as a reference. When students make mistakes, motivational posters are a great reference to remind students how to correct their behaviors. 

4. Motivational posters help students understand classroom expectations. 

5. Motivational help to instill positive character traits in our students. They can become a part of character education in your classroom.

I love creating motivational posters, and I have an owl themed poster for you for FREE. You can find this free owl theme motivational poster HERE. I also have a wide variety of motivational posters in my store that are sure to match your classroom decor. Find owl theme posters, chevron posters,  bee themed posters, blue and green (shown above) and more. My favorite sets include:

Black and White Motivational Posters- copy these on any colored paper to match your classroom

Cactus Themed Motivational Posters

Rustic Farmhouse Themed Motivational Posters

If you have not tried motivational posters in your classroom, I highly recommend that you try them! You and  your students will love them. I always love hearing the students repeat the sayings to motivate, encourage, or remind one another to be their best.

Have a blessed day!