How Math Centers Link to Mathematical Practices

Teaching critical thinking and problem solving skills

Play in the classroom is so important to learning. Centers feel like play, with the intention of practicing a learned concept over and over until it's mastered. Centers are like our co-teachers in a sense; they help support the learning and can even be adapted for differentiation.


We live in a base-ten world. Children need to learn how to make ten quickly, since our money system depends on it. Accuracy is important to everyone when talking about money (CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP2 Reason abstractly and quantitatively). Playing math games with a focus toward base-ten counting gives students a fun way to experience the real world, but it doesn't always have to be with play money (CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP4 Model with mathematics).

As students are given the chance to play math center games, they are able to check one another's work for discrepancies. It's the beginning of finding and expression proof of something true or false. "Can an 8 and 3 go together to make ten? No! That's too much. Try again." This also helps students build confidence in their proof (CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP3 Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others).

Students first need to count on before realizing that 2+8 is always going to be the same as 8+2 (commutative property) and both make 10 (CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP7 Look for and make use of structure).

Eventually, counting on with single-digits will not be a needed strategy if students have seen these same expressions over and over again. This is why practice with math centers is so important (CCSS.MATH.PRACTICE.MP8 Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning).

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Math centers can be adapted for use in small groups and sometimes in whole group teaching. It's the feeling of a game while practicing the math concepts. However you use math center resources, enjoy knowing that there are many of the mathematical practices involved.


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