Thursday, January 24, 2013

Oh my Math Stations!

Almost every teacher I know teaches a reading workshop. Students rotate through various stations (centers) and literacy activities, including small group instruction with the teacher. The reading workshop allows for minimal whole group instruction with a lot of support in small groups and skill practice in stations (centers). When I first began teaching, I wondered why teachers did not create a math workshop. 

Over the years, I have tried whole group math and then pulled the students who needed re-teaching or extra reinforcement. This just does not work for me or my students. I have found they are so good at the routines during the reading workshop that they are often thrown off by the lack of routine during math.

A few years ago, I decided to change up my math routine. I implemented a math workshop in my classroom. I begin with Math Madness (read about it here). After the students have completed Math Madness and we review the skills, I lead into the day's mini-lesson. Depending on the skill, I might have several mini-lessons a week on the same skill. On shorter weeks, like this week, I introduce (or review) a different skill each day. This week, I am teaching a mini-lesson on time, comparing numbers, addition, and subtraction.
The mini-lesson allows me to see who has really caught on to the skill or who may need extra support. Based on my observations, I pull the students who need help and work with them in small groups. The other students begin math stations. 

You might be wondering what a math station looks like. All of the activities in math stations are skills and materials which have previously been taught. For my students, the first two days of a station, the students are working with manipulatives. (Some activities may require the use of a dry-erase marker and/or board.) After two days of practice with manipulatives, I will then give the students a response sheet. They have the rest of the week to complete the sheet. The skill level of the students at the end of the week will help me plan for the following week's stations. They may or may not be the same. Some skills require extended practice time, while others, such as geometry and time, can be rotated in and out over the quarter.

This week, I have four stations; measurement of time, addition, subtraction, and comparing numbers. Here is a brief description of the activities for each station. 

Measurement of time: Students can choose from three activities. 

Activity 1: Students practice time to the hour matching analog clock faces to digital time cards. The second task requires the student to use a clock and replicate the time on the cards. 
 Activity 2: Students practice time to the half hour matching analog clock faces to digital time cards. The second task requires the student to use a clock and replicate the time on the cards. 
You can grab my Tick Tock Time Centers here
Activity 3: Students create a large floor clock, assembling all the pieces.

 Then one student use flashcards to call out a time. The other students show the time with the floor clock.

Addition and Subtraction: Students can choose from three activities at either addition or subtraction. 

Activity 1: Dry-erase flash-cards.

Activity 2: Students use manipulatives to create addition equations. Then they write their equation on a dry-erase board. 

Activity 3: Computer with fact drills. 

Comparing Numbers: This game is played in pairs. 

One student grabs a handful of pom-poms. They count the pom-poms and write their number on a dry-erase board. The second student does the same. They each take turns deciding which symbol is needed (greater than, less than, or equal to). 

So far, math stations are a hit in my room. I wish I had started them sooner this year! How do you tach math in your room? I would love to hear how you do it! 

Other than that, I had a request for my Math Madness as station activities. So I am busy making stations and response forms to go along with the Math Madness skills, so check back soon! 


  1. Thank you so much for sharing your ideas. We also do math stations/centers in my room. I like doing it because there is always just 1 or 2 kids that I need to work with and stations help the other children be productive instead of just waiting around:) I LOVE your giant clock and I am so doing that. I also have your math madness on my wish list and I will be getting it soon. Thanks again! Merinda

  2. HI Merinda! Thanks for the sweet comment. The giant clock was a huge hit! The kids love it. If you want to challenge them and get them moving, have them use their body to be the hour and minute hands. It's hysterical! =) I am working on making stations to match the Math Madness skills and I will be adding to the Math Madness set too, over the next few weeks! =)

  3. As a trainee teacher you have inspired me to think out of the box and be creative in my approach. I believe that the giant clock would be a fantastic method to use in my teaching. I also think the crocodiles for less than and more than are awesome.

    Thanks for your help- all the best!
    Ben :)
    (I hope you have time to visit my blog too)

  4. So glad I found this post! I have been thinking about how to change up my math time next year, and this sounds like a great approach!

    Ms. Cranfill's Class

  5. Hi, Samantha! Thank you for sharing your ideas. Most kids are visual learners, so when it comes to teaching more complicated concepts in math, something like the activities you have would prove to be beneficial. I think it will not only keep them more engaged, but it can also help them retain the skills better. Great job!


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