Focus on Math

Helping children become mathematicians!

Math Centres in Primary Classrooms February 13, 2011

Filed under: Primary Math Ideas & Problems — Focus on Math @ 5:07 am

We had a wonderful afternoon yesterday at Charlie Lake School  collaborating around primary mathematics teaching. This was the third session for the six teachers involved, so we spent time sharing some of the things they have been doing differently since our last meeting in November. I was delighted to hear about the math word charts that are being used, the problem solving that is happening, the visuals that are being introduced. There was a real sense of energy and excitement around math teaching!

Our conversation eventually moved to the topic of math centres, and the fact that setting up math time to include centres on a weekly basis (say, every Friday) can be advantageous. While most of the students are working independently, the teacher is able to work with and observe a small group of students as they solve problems, setting up a great opportunity to assess each student’s understanding of math concepts.

Centres are relatively easy to implement. There are many worthwhile activities that can be easily set up as centres, ones which can remain relatively similar over time, with just specifics changed out as needed (much as is the case with literacy centres).  Remember, all the activities should be learned as a class first, and only put in a centre when children really understand what you want them to do during that time.

Some Ideas for centres:

  • making tangram pictures  (using the ones which give a full-size image but are missing the “lines”)
  • patterning activities (with a variety of materials)
  • writing math questions (especially from pictures)
  • representing a given number in as many ways as they can using pictures, numbers, and words.
  • breaking numbers apart
  • solving Sudoku puzzles (4 x 4 for grade 1; 6 x 6 for grades 2 and 3)
  • games that have logic component (such as “Guess Who”)
  • measurement centre
  • counting centre (with many bags of items to count)
  • sorting centre for sorting materials by one or more attributes

Of course, these topics will look different according to the grade level and ability of the students, but within the list there are possibilities for all! If you need further information about how one or more of those centres might actually look, just let me know. I am happy to give more details, but wanted to get a list out there to get you thinking! I hope you find a few ideas that you can use to set up math centres in your classroom. As always, I am

Mathematically yours,



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