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My Fab Five Math Centers! - Part 1

I'll confess: I don't have time to constantly change my math centers. I honestly don't have time to make all the adorable things that my friends down the hall make! While I do use computer games, worksheets, and books, I want to share with you 5 centers that I use that are FAST to put together and FABULOUS!

Here's the thing, I like my MATH centers like I like YOGA:

  • They have to promote independent work;
  • They have to allow students to work at their own pace;
  • They have to be predictable so the focus is on the work, not on a new procedure;
  • When you are done with it, you should feel like you got a good workout.
That's about it! I set them up in the beginning of the year, and they work amazingly well with just a little tweaking!

The most important component of the success of these centers is the careful MODELING and MONITORING when I first introduce each one. 

This is the 1st of a five-post series. Links to the other Fab Five Math Centers are provided at the bottom.

This center is SUPER easy to put together and SUPER easy to adapt throughout the year!

Setting it up:

  • Choose a tub.
  • Add dice (Start with the regular 6-sided ones, then change to the 10-sided ones).
  • Add directions (no more than 3 lines).
  • Give students a Math Journal.


  • Use a visual presenter, dice, and a journal to model each step to your students. 
  • I generally give them their journals and ask them to come to the carpet with their journals and pencils. 
  • After I open my journal and write the title, they open their journals and write the title. After I roll a number and write it down, they write the number down. If I skip a line, they skip a line. I think you get the picture. I keep modeling the procedures until I can see that they are very, very clear. Then I send the kids to their seats to try on their own.
  • Model how to get the tub from its place, how to take turns taking the dice from inside the tub, and how to return things neatly back where they were. It might sound silly, but never assume that children have learned these things before. 

Here are some suggestions on how to start this center in the beginning of the year, and how to progressively adapt it as your students grow!

  • Roll a number.
  • Write it down.
  • Add 1. (This is the only thing you need to change. It can say "Add 2, add 3, etc")
  • Write the number 6. (This is the only thing you need to change. It can say "Write 7, Write 8, etc")
  • Roll a number. Write it down.
  • Subtract the numbers. 

  • Roll two numbers.
  • Write each number down.
  • Add the two numbers.
  • Roll two numbers.
  • Write the bigger number first.
  • Subtract the two numbers.

  • Make a 2-digit number. Write it down.
  • Make a 1-digit number. Write it down.
  • Add the numbers.
  • Make two 2-digit numbers. Write them down.
  • Add the numbers.
  • Make a 2-digit number. Write it down.
  • Make a 1-digit number. Write it down.
  • Subtract the two numbers.

Do you have simple-but-fabulous ideas to share? Leave them here for everyone to use!

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Here are the links to the other posts of this series:

My Fab Five Math Centers! - Part 2

My Fab Five Math Centers! - Part 3

My Fab Math Centers! - Part 4

If by chance you are looking for great Addition and Subtraction practice, I might have just the thing for you!

  • This link takes you to my Addition to 20 resource. It is super complete! It starts with a Kindergarten review, then becomes more and more rigorous. It comes with word problems and assessments!

  • This link takes you to my Subtraction from 20 resource. Just as complete as the Addition packet!

  • And you can click here to get a FREE SAMPLE of both resources!

Free Sample
Free Sample

If you want to keep this information fresh all year you can assign homework that constantly reviews learned skills. This is the homework I have in case you are interested. It's 100% Common Core aligned! There is a FREE SAMPLE available for each packet when you check the resource pages. 

1st Grade Math Homework

2nd Grade Math Homework

3rd Grade Math Homework