Back to School Math Centers and Activities

The beginning of the year is a great time to observe students counting and number sense skills.  Here are some of the simple activities I like to use.

1. Counting Boxes:
I found these cute containers at Dollar Tree.  You get 10 in a package for $1. I put small objects in each container; paper clips, counters, tiny erasers, links, play money, etc.  You can use anything you have on hand.  

Then I labeled the front of the containers with a sharpie.  You could just put a number.  I put a number and what is inside. 

To use the activity, students take a container and count how many objects are inside.  Then they record the number on the recording sheet.  

Click here to get the recording sheet.

This activity is great as a center.  It also works well for small-group table time, you can make some great observations/anecdotal notes of students counting skills this way.

2.  Counting Mats:
This is a fun and simple activity! Students need a felt mat or piece of large piece of construction paper as a work space.  Add a set of number cards (you decide how high you would like them to go), and some fun manipulatives, and this center is ready to go.  Students grab a number card and count out that many objects.  The little pom-poms above are really fun to use.  Try to set out a variety of objects to make it more fun for students.

3. Number Strips:
This activity can be done whole class or as a center.  Give each student a strip of adding machine tape about 3 feet long.  They can tape it to a desk or table. You want them to write with the paper vertical so that each number has it's own line, so they don't have to worry about spaces between numbers. Students start at one and write as far as they can. If they fill the whole strip, they can tape another strip onto it and keep going. I have been using this activity for years, and they always LOVE it.  I think it is because they like to see how long their strip is.  It is a little messy, but worth it.  When students finish, I try to roll them up and rubber band them.  Later, I do a quick check to see where they are in their understanding of numbers.  I make myself a few quick notes about how far they can write, if they have reversals, etc.  It is a great way to get some quick data on students math skills.

4. Dry Erase Boards:
Students use these simple task cards and dry erase boards to draw pictures to represent numbers.
Click here to get the task cards.

I hope this gives you some easy math ideas that you can use the first week or two back at school.

Happy Teaching!


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