A couple of years ago, I attended an inservice on learning centers in the classroom. Since then, learning centers have become a huge part of my teaching. Now, my students participate in self-directed, self-motivating review, practice, and enrichment on a regular basis. The kids love the math centers and even ask for more work!! This blog is dedicated to helping teachers make math centers a meaningful part of their instruction, thereby increasing students' achievement and the enjoyment of teaching!

Monday, January 17, 2011

For young children, let them PLAY!

With my second graders, I like to put things at the math centers that allow them to play in creative ways. This way they are learning naturally through play. Here are three of my favorites:

Money trays. I don't really even give any directions for this one. The kids just enjoy playing with the money. I put these out when we begin counting money. Sometimes they'll play "Store" or just try practicing counting on their own. You can typically find money trays, like the one pictured, at a discount store with the educational toys.

Talking Clever Clock. No, I don't have a stake in the company that makes this toy. I'm just a fan. It has two settings - easy (15-minute intervals) and hard (5-minute intervals). You can set it to different times and make it say the time, or you can get it to ask you to move the hands to different times and it will check your answers. Although I don't use this feature personally, it also has elapsed time problems. Great product.

Pan balance. After we first begin studying weight, I simply leave a pan balance out, along with the ounce and pound weights. Of course, you should discuss safe, appropriate use of the weights. It's a great math center, because the students can weigh whatever they want, or even compare the weights of different objects. You may want to include a recording sheet as an option.

Got other ideas like these? I'd love to hear them! I'm always looking for more ways to get my younger students "playing" with the math they are learning.

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