Math Center Games and Math Writing Projects

Venn Diagram games are fun for kids and it takes awhile for them to “get it”.

One way I found the time to do center games during the year was working on topics during the summer and making up file folder games and attribute games and Venn Diagrams and stuff I found from workshops, online and ideas from other teachers. I attended a few math academies over my career and some after school professional developments and I tried to get varieties of games on every subject I covered in math.

 I keep them in magazine box holders marked with the strands of math; Money, Time, Fractions, Measurement, Place Value, add/subtract, even/odd/greater/less, problem solving, Geometry etc.  I keep the read aloud books in that box that go with the topic (i.e. Hersheys Fraction Book goes with fractions). Art project samples are dropped in the box as well as worksheets. I didn’t have a filing cabinet for math. I would keep the box at my desk or on the counter for the length of the unit. I’d have center games in baggies stuffed in the box too.  For overflow I use a Costco 6 drawer rolling cart for the extra games on 6 topics.

Great Storage for Math Games
Another way I store  Math Games by Topic or Strand of Math

 Little by little the pile grew and I added a few purchased games such as Sum Swamp, How Tall Are You, Domino Games, Math Bingo Games, and tons of games with Cards and Flashcards and dice. I have about 30 two inch foam dice we use all the time.  I also purchased things like pattern blocks, multilink cubes, colored bear and dinosaur counters, plastic money, Judy clocks, Fraction dominoes and geometrical 3D shapes. I have magnetic games of every kind. And kids love rubber stamps so I have everything from base 10 blocks to clocks to coin money stamps and magnetic numbers and operations. New teachers come borrow centers from me all the time to use for a week in their classrooms.

I try to have a writing project every 3 weeks or so for the strand of math we are covering to integrate writing with math. For a few examples; when we do time we make a book called “The Times of My Life” and each page has a clock and the kids write about what time they do some of their favorite things of the day.(I wake up at 7:00 and I eat cornflakes with bananas for breakfast!) A link to lots of miniclass topics is here at the Reading Lady website.  She has lots of great ideas.

 When we do money they paint a big pink piggy bank and cut out and paste coins on it. They write about how much money they have in their bank on cute “pig” stationery and what they want to buy with it. These are always funny because kids don’t know how expensive some of their ideas are going to be. (I have $1.29  and I’m taking my family on a cruise!) hehehe

Here’s a cute pig from Pocket Full of Posies link HERE.
We added paper coin money under his smile and then wrote about it…I always
added a pink chenille stem curled up for the tail….just taped to the back…super cute!

When we do  geometry we do3D Geometry books (I once was a sphere but now I’m a colorful beachball on a sandy, California beach). These plane shape and 3D shape books not only help the kids memorize the vocabulary (sphere, cone, cylinder, rectangle prism etc.) but they learn to write adjectives and great descriptive words with punctuation thrown in too.

The fraction books we do are pattern block stickers made into “aliens” and they tell the fraction of colors on each page. It’s a fun writing…”My alien’s name is Bob. 1/8 of him is red. He is 3/8ths orange, 4/8ths black and he loves to break dance! (You can just imagine the illustration surrounding the pattern block stickers now can’t you?) These are naturally differentiating because kids will be more creative in writing longer, more elaborate things when they are higher level most of the time. (not every time of course) And lower ability kids can do shorter writings, with less pages overall with simpler sentences.

Open ended math writing prompts are differentiation naturally. Add a writing prompt to your math once a month and get 5 birds with 1 stone. (math problem solving, differentiation, punctuation and creative writing practice mixed in with some cool art!) And talk about engagement…. Kids LOVE these kinds of multilevel, multisubject projects. And I have found them to be helpful because there is classroom behavior managment for me when kids are happy and engaged…and they are. MUCH more engaged than a worksheet could ever make them!

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