Lesson Plan

Math Center Creation

In this lesson, students will be introduced to different center activities allowing the teacher to successfully lead a small guided math group while students work independently during center activities.Their activities will be review of learned standards.
Tali H.
Eastern Regional Education Director Common Sense Education
Common Sense Media
San Francisco, United States
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My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts, World Languages, English-Language Learning, Health & Wellness

Students will be able to...

practice independently previously learned math objectives, including:

-counting with money

-skip counting

-adding and subtracting using base 10 blocks

-responding to word problems around measurement

-responding to various critical thinking problems



Grades 1
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Introduction

Free to try, Paid

5-7 min

Students are seated at the carpet because most of their desks are being used for the upcoming center activites

Explain to students that today we're going to start doing center activites. In a moment, I'll be walking them through all the different activites they'll be doing. Show students on CorkboardMe the list of all the center activites, with the list of students' names underneath. NOTE: this lesson could take anywhere from 45 min - 1.5 hours depending on how much time you have and how much review with each center game students require. Also, I would probably do a version of this lesson multiple times as I reinforce center/independent work time concepts to my students.

  • Students will practice counting the right amount of change by putting the correct amount of change in an arcade game
  • Students will respond to word problems about measurement
  • Students will practice skip counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s
  • Students will engage in critical thinking problem solving excercises
  • Students will practice adding and subtracting 2-digit and 3-digit numbers using base 10 and 100 blocks

2 Direct Instruction

Free to try, Paid
Free, Free to try, Paid

5-7 min

Students are seated at the carpet.

Introduce students to each game: NOTE: none of these sites or games should be new to students. Teacher introduced these objectives and sites to students at earlier points. When going over each center activity, teacher has students visually show whether they remember the game. "Thumbs up if this is totally familiar, thumbs down if you don't remember it at all, thumbs to the side if you're not sure." Teacher makes mental note of those who put up thumbs down and to the side, to call up during Guided Practice.

  • in Bugs and Numbers, students will be counting money by putting the correct change in arcade games. Since the app doesn't show the teacher what students got wrong or struggled with, students will be instructed to complete a self-reflection work sheet at the end that simply says: "I had an easy time with __________" 
    • "I had a hard time with ___________"
    • For modifications, smiley/sad faces can be used instead to highlight the specific skills
  • in IXL students will practice skip counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s. Since the site doesn't offer a clear visual, they'll also have their number lines available at their table, although students will be encouraged to see how quickly they can respond without using the number lines (this is more of a drill/kill excersice to practice automaticity)  - See the website - http://www.ixl.com/math/grade-1/counting-by-twos-fives-and-tens-up-to-100 (A.9 - counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s up to 100))
  • in another section of IXL, students will answer word problems about customary units of length (N.6)- http://www.ixl.com/math/grade-1/customary-units-of-length-word-problems 
  • Using NRICH students will do a series of problem-solving/critical thinking problems: 
    • 1) http://nrich.maths.org/4332 - same length trains. Have students respond to the questions asked below. They can record their answers on a padlet page you create, titled NRICH- just make a name for it using tinyurl.com.
    • 2) http://nrich.maths.org/150 - 2 dice - this requires each student or student pair to have 2 dice. Students record all the number combinations they can find. Responses should be recorded on padlet again.
    • 3) Options - students can click on some of the corresponding activities associated with each of those activities for an additional challenge
  • in the final center, students will practice adding and subtracting 2 and 3-digital numbers using base 10 and 100 blocks. They will write out their own addition and subtraction problems on white boards OR on Padlet (using a special page I've created and renamed using tinyurl.com)

3 Guided Practice

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Free, Free to try, Paid

15 - 20 min

Have students stand up and do quick stretch while skip counting by 5s to 100.

Teacher does brief demo of each game/center activity, calling up students who weren't sure if they remembered it to practice with her. Directions are clearly posted. Students spend approximately 5 minutes at each center, demonstrating how to play and what to do.  Specific questions I would raise are:
-what's my first step?

-what should I do if the website/app isn't working? who should I ask for help?

-what did you notice about how the students were playing the game? 

-any questions?

NOTE: depending on amount of time, I might stop the lesson after I've demoed each center with a group of students. But if I have more time, I would move onto independent practice, where students will actually get into center groups. 

4 Independent Practice

Free to try, Paid
Free, Free to try, Paid

20 min (including transition)

Students will now practice at each center, while I circulate. NOTE: the first week, I will not be working with a small group, I will just be monitoring how students are working at each center.

Students will spend 15 minutes at their center. I will have a timer posted on the wall for them to see how much time they have left - http://www.online-stopwatch.com/countdown-timer/

5 Wrap-up

Activity: Assessing

5-7 min

Students come back to the carpet to debrief and reflect on how their first center activity went. They respond to the following questions with their thumbs up, thumbs to the side and thumbs down OR pair share:

-I understood what to do at my center

-Turn to a partner and share one thing you practiced today, and something you learned (I'll then take a couple of whole-group shares)

-I helped other people at my center

-I used a quiet "centers" voice

-Turn to a partner and share a problem you had at your center today (I'll take a couple of whole group shares)

-Turn to your partner and share how you'll improve your centers work tomorrow (I'll take a couple of whole group shares)