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Centers are a great way to reinforce skills in math and other areas of the curriculum. During center time, children can work individually or with a partner to complete practical tasks related to the current concepts being taught or reviewed. Place copies of the recording sheets along with any other materials needed in the center area. You can add a math center to your regular literacy centers and change it out each week or set aside one day a week where students rotate through several math centers.
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Measuring All Year
Here's a center that you can use all year for practicing measuring length. Just replace the items to be measured every month or so to fit the season.
Provide children with a collection of similar items to measure. Have them choose four or five of the items and measure the length using both standard units of measurement and non-standard, like snap cubes or paper clips and then complete the recording sheet, circling the ways they measured and recording their data.
Here are a few ideas for seasonal items to place in the work station.
Winter: Paper snowflakes, mittens and gloves, Christmas tree ornaments, hearts (Valentine's Day)
Spring: sticks, rocks, Easter eggs of different sizes (paper or plastic), small potted flowers
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Children will practice the science skills of observation and recording data as well as measurement in this center.
Plant a plant with your students. Amaryllis bulbs, sunflowers or beans are good choices because they sprout rather quickly. Once the plant begins to grow, place it in your center with the recording sheets, snap cubes and rulers. The students should draw a picture of what the plant looks like on the day that they visit the center, measure how tall it is and record that information on their recording sheet. They can measure using snap cubes, a ruler or another way.
When recording how tall the plant is, one student might draw the plant and draw how many cubes tall it is next to it. Another might be able to write a sentence describing the height in inches or centimeters. Either answer should be accepted. The focus should be each child's ability to find a way to measure and record the height of the plant.
Provide a place for the children to keep their data sheets so that they can go back and see how the plant has grown.
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Using a Balance Scale
Students will practice using a balance scale in this math center.
Place a balance scale, counters (like snap cubes or teddy bear counters) and a basket of small objects to weigh on a table. The children should place an object to weigh in the left side of the scale and add counters to right side until it is balanced. Once the scale is balanced, they should remove the counters, count them and write the number on their recording sheet. They repeat the activity with another item and record which object is heaviest and which is lightest.
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Send your students on a measuring scavenger hunt!
Provide the children with rulers and a list of measurements and challenge them to search the classroom for objects that are close the different lengths. When they finish, they can share what they found with a partner. This is great practice for using rulers to measure length.
Children will become experts at finding height, length and weight when you use these fun math center ideas for measurement in your classroom. These tasks will help them build a strong foundation for skills that will be learned later.
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How Many Feet?
Children will practice estimating and finding distance. In this center, students measure how many of their feet it will take to get to certain places in the room. When you explain the center to the class, show them how to take steps from heel to toe. Let them practice measuring this way.
Next, provide them with a list of places in the classroom such as the teacher's desk, the door, the pencil sharpener and so forth. Have them estimate how many of their own feet it will take to get to each place from their seat. Let them count out the steps and record them. After each student has completed the center, discuss their findings. Why might they have different answers? What would happen if you took really big steps or really small ones?
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K-5 Math Teaching Resources, http://www.k-5mathteachingresources.com/support-files/usingabalancescale.pdf
Photo provided by the author