If you’re a teacher who is just starting out, the setup and organization of math stations can feel like a daunting task. And if you’re a seasoned teacher, managing your math centers can feel just as taxing.
Still, hands-on math stations or centers are your bread and butter for allowing students to review the many concepts you’ve taught throughout the year. During what should be your students’ independent work time, you’ll have time for other important tasks.
But in order to make this process work for you as efficiently as possible, you’ll want to ensure your math stations are set up for success. But what does that mean? I’m glad you asked!
Today, I’ll be sharing with you 5 ways to simplify your math stations so you can make your life a whole lot easier, and I’ve included a FREEBIE to get you started.
Spiral Crucial Skills
Featured resource: Valentine’s Day Math and Literacy Centers
First things first, decide on the focus for your centers. Centers are made to review skills. Once your students have been introduced to a concept, they can continue to practice that skill throughout the year.
Reserve your math centers for spiraling review throughout the year so that you aren’t introducing skills during a time when students should be working independently. Which in turn, gives you some time back into your day to work on other crucial tasks.
Pro Tip: Include student directions whenever possible so your students know exactly what to do. This will cut back on the number of interruptions for help with figuring out what they need to do.
Keep Materials Minimal
Featured resource: Math Stations with Spinners
Manipulatives are great and I love them. They keep students engaged and provide a much-needed hands-on experience.
But you don’t need a ton of them to keep your math station activities interesting. Pick a math center or two to incorporate a dice game or use math activities with spinners! Spinners are easy and cost-effective when you use paper clips as the spinner.
Whichever way you go, don’t feel the need or pressure to make every center choked full of manipulatives or extravagant activities. Sometimes, simple is best.
Featured resource: Valen-Time Math Activity
When it comes to simplicity, you can’t beat digital centers! Incorporating tech time is another math station idea that allows for an even more hands-off experience for the teacher (woo-hoo!).
Students can still get beneficial practice with various math skills during tech time. By incorporating a tech center into your math station rotation, you can eliminate some of your prep work.
Digital math centers are great for reviewing concepts in a fun way, but they also provide students with real-world experience in using technology to solve problems.
If you’re on the fence about using digital math centers, I encourage you to try them! You can start with this FREE digital activity for telling time.
You can grab the FREEBIE “Valen-time” math activity right here.
Use Reusable Materials
Featured resource: Penguin math stations
Save your sanity with reusable materials that cut back on prep time and reduce your carbon footprint by eliminating the need to make multiple copies!
I like to use dry-erase packets to store math center printables and worksheets so they can be reused by various students throughout the center time and to be saved for use throughout the year.
Another option is to use lamination. Choose whatever works best for you and your classroom.
Featured resource: No Prep Math Stations
You’ll want to keep your math stations visible throughout the year to ensure you always have what you need.
I like to use storage bags for this purpose. The bags are such an easy way to keep all of the components of your stations together while having a layer of protection around them to ensure they last throughout the year.
Using transparent bags gives you increased visibility so you can quickly grab what you need. They work really well for math stations that require no prep as it will be even easier to just grab and go!
You can try something similar with baskets or storage bins by applying labels to the front.
Whether you are just starting out, looking to refresh your centers, or just need new ideas on how to simplify your math stations, incorporating even just a few of these 5 tips will increase productivity in your classroom and keep your students learning independently. Plus, it will give you a little bit more precious uninterrupted time to work on other important tasks.
Math Stations You May Love
If you need help getting started with any of the strategies mentioned above, then you should consider these five math station resources. These are low to no prep math stations with a range of standards-based math activities for practice and review.
Valentine’s Day Math and Literacy Centers