12 MATH Addition Games for Centers and Differentiation

Math Workshop Adventures made this poster for kids to go to the 4 centers for math I used as my inspiration. Thanks guys!! I do a free choice for centers and just have a game at each of 5 areas of the room that I use for reading centers, so no need for a poster. But it’s a great way to get started! 

I believe in math centers AND in finding time to make some differentiation.  And I compact 2 worksheets into one day in their regular math work so that I can give a totally different, challenging worksheet one day a week, in the same strand of math we are studying. That leaves Friday to do some activities, games,  or writing projects in math.

So while the regular kids may do 5 pages of independent math work in a week, my kids do 6 in class, 2 at home for homework, and the higher level kids do an extra  sheet with higher level math weekly.  And they ALL DO GAMES as fast finishers or on Fridays. So it is a challenging classroom. You can have fun AND give challenge and differentiate in your classroom too!

 I still have kids who struggle all year, just like any teacher does. So I work with them during independent while my high and medium kids get done and play some of these games. And once a week while kids are playing center games I work with just my high kids for a half hour. That makes it doable for me. I usually work with high kids on Mondays after independent work has started.

F is for First Grade made this rotation schedule for her math groups. It would help you begin. After awhile I would think it would become automatic. 

 I am always adding to my math games and centers  and I spend time on blogs and on the internet finding games on every math strand. I probably make a new one at least once every few months. So it is not overwhelming, but I built up my centers over the years of working on making them. I leave 1 language arts center and 1 math center at each of my 5 tables/center areas. (rug, round table, long table, word work table, magnet filing cabinets center). So I never have to worry too much and I only change centers every 2 weeks. It is all free choice too. Morning fast finishers go to language arts games, afternoons during math they go do the math games at the same table.

HERE are a few of my favorites in Addition,  good for 1st or 2nd graders.

1. Dot Dice Addends from Investigations. If you don’t have the Investigations book here is another free downloadable from Kindergarten Crayons. I made little dice out of foam cut into inch pieces. I made from 1 dot to 6 dots on each square using a fat, black, Sharpie marker. They are in baggies by color so they don’t get mixed up. Kids use 2 or 3 of the dot dice to make the colorful sum on the left end. The white part is for laying the 2 or 3 dot dice out. Or you can just buy dot dice. It’s fun and they love it.

I made up a baggy of green, a baggie of red, yellow, orange etc. It’s easy to make them just watching T.V. one night with 3 or 6 different colors of 40 cent foam from Hobby Lobby. Use a round Sharpie marker for the dots on 1 inch pieces. Cheap! 

2. Bump Addition (Can make different ones for Holidays) Link HERE for game and Sunny Days in Second for more great game ideas. Lots are free and downloadable.

3. Make 15 free printable HERE. Thanks to Fun Games 4 Learning. She has lots of games too.
Fifteen Math Board Game
4. Parking Lot Games (see the link to Happy Brown House’s Blog. She has lots of cute ideas HERE. Or another link I used is at Mathwire.  or HERE for a Domino Parking Lot Game.Roll the dice and add up the dots. Drive your car into the parking lot with that answer. First person to fill up their Parking Lot is the winner!
5. Addition Games from Blogs and  Pinterest (go crazy here!) Or lots of great games Kids Count 1234.

6. Addition Bingo- You can make a class set or a center set of 5 boards. Check out these links at Donna Young.org to make them as hard or as easy as you want. Or purchase a set at a Teacher’s Supply.

7. Head Full of Numbers- roll 3 dice. Third dice is a plus or minus or multiply sign so just play with the plus sign first of the year. Set the sand timer and have the score pad ready to record the number of unique equations each player makes using the numbers rolled.
8. Doubles Plus 1HERE or Fish Plus 1 or Fish Plus 2. This is a good game to get kids to be able to add 1 and 2 in their heads. Instead of making a pair of the SAME number, they make a pair by 2 numbers that are only 1 apart (7 and 8, 2 and 3 etc.) or if going for Fish Plus 2  it would be 8 and 10, 2 and 4 etc. Use number cards up to 12 or 20, or decks without the face cards.
    Double Plus One
9. Sum Swamp. This is THE MOST POPULAR game in my classroom, bar none. Kids love it. I actually have purchased 2 of them it is always played all year. It is $20 bucks on Amazon. Money well spent.
Sum Swamp Addition and Subtraction Game
10. Flash Card Partners- Kids love doing this as partners. I flash you a card and you add it up. Then you flash me a card and I add it up. Easy. Just start easier cards at the first of the year, harder cards or subtraction later in the year. Multiplication for high kids.

11. Math Fact Concentration or Flip 10 above. Put number cards out like a concentration game. Decide if you are adding math facts of 10s or 9s or whatever. Then take turns picking 2 cards that will make 10. Then it’s the next guy’s turn. 2-4 can play this game. Find tiny sets of number cards and copy on pastel card stock. I have about 10 of these games made up in baggies. Or use UNO cards sets from Target.

12. Addition Facts Jenga.  I have a Jenga game in a baggie the kids use for this. The directions and print outs are free and here at Teachers Pay Teachers.

13. Give me 5 or Give me 6. Oceans of First Grade Fun has a game you could vary to get kids to memorize their 5s and 6s math facts. You could change a few numbers and make it work for learning 7s, 8s and 9s too.
Give Me Five~ Math Printable Game

The other thing I always do is A.D.D. Math (Arithmetic Developed Daily) in the next grade up.   When I taught regular ed I would do the current year and then halfway through the next grade up year’s book. It has a word problem a day and we would do 2 days worth in about 12 minutes. This takes up the first 10 minutes of my morning. Check it out HERE. Then they silent read so I have a chance to reteach some of the kids judging from corrected previous work, and help others who are stuck on something, 1 on 1. I really love ADD Math.

I remember when my own son was struggling with 5th grade math. His teacher laughed when I asked her if she ever remediates his lack of understanding. She said “Oh no, I am doing a pre-algebra group for my high kids, I don’t have time to remediate”.  I understood that my son would never get help from her and hired a twice a week, $30.00 per hour tutor for him that afternoon.  He struggled in math for years after that and had to always have summer school.

I think that teacher did not understand best practices and just simple good teaching.  You should NEVER leave your low ability kids hung out to dry just to address your high kids OR VICE VERSA.  So doing math centers is at the very least engaging your higher level kids while you have time to work with the low kids.  But I think I have found a good balance that doesn’t make me want to pull my hair out, either. I will share subtraction in September so check back.

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