Introduction Centers

7 Sep

Before I start explaining my centers I want to share a little background about my teaching situation this year. In my previous 6 years of teaching I’ve been at a large public school where there were many other math teachers to collaborate with. I also was able to talk with the teachers that taught my students the previous year. This had tremendous advantages. I also knew what the teacher did with the students in terms of curriculum or group work. This year I am the ONLY middle school math teacher in my building. I’m teaching 6th, 7th, PreAl, and Algebra. The teacher that taught math previous years was not asked to return. I feel so lost about my students! I don’t know what their previous math experience has been like, and I don’t know where their strengths and weaknesses lie. It’s definitely a learning experience for me.

Because I do feel so lost about what my students know and have done before I first wanted to see how well they worked in groups. I also want to start training my students how to do centers early, because I feel like I’m going to need to do a lot of differentiating with so many different levels of ability. Also centers take a lot of work to set up so I wanted to use one that would work in all of my classes. I decided to just do basic skills review. I thought this would be good for the students and also help me to see where there may be some gaps. Since it is the first time we’re doing centers I created three centers and we rotated about every 7-8 minutes.

For My Basic Center Set-up check out this post:

I will tell you I got new tubs this year so my pictures might look a little different. 🙂 (The dollar section at Target can’t be beat!!)

Here’s my Introductory Centers!!

Center 1: Go FishDSCF8772

I use Go Fish cards in centers a lot. You can create them in Excel and then print multiple copies (just like regular playing cards have four 2’s, your cards can have four 0.5’s). I also like to take out some aggression using the giant paper cutter in the teachers’ workroom.

This center I did Fraction/Decimal Go Fish. Students have to get a pair containing one decimal and one fraction. I used very common/basic equivalent fractions and decimals. I printed the cards on cardstock and then cut them out. I also typed up an instruction page on cardstock and put that in a page protector.


Center 2: Amazin’ Activity –

DSCF8777This center has a gameboard, gamepieces, dice, cards, and an answer key. I used this game for the cards. I cut off the celebrations at the bottom. I love this because it comes with an answer key. Thanks Big Ideas!! Oh yeah, did I mention it was free and I didn’t have to create it?? Awesome.

In the tub I put the gameboard I created on Word, some random game pieces, one die, the game cards, answer key, instructions, and a whiteboard and marker. This is for the player who’s turn it is to work out the problems.

For the word gameboard you’ll need to print both pages and then line up the blue lines, cut one so you can match them up to create one large rectangular board.

A note about the gameboard: By now you might be thinking, I don’t have time to do all this for centers!!! Well I will not lie, it does take some time to set up. However, I plan on using the gameboard and instructions for the game many times throughout the year. The only thing I’m going to change are the question cards. You can easily make question cards by cutting up a worksheet full of problems, or if you have exam view use that! The kids really do appreciate it.


Center 3 – Puzzle Time

DSCF8779This center I did a very simple Tarsia puzzle. (Again see my post on Centers for a free download of this awesome software!!) Students had to fill in the blank to find the correct answer and solve the puzzle. This is a great intro to solving equations as well.

Since I’m feeling generous I’m going to post all of this on Teachers Pay Teachers for free!!! As soon as this happens I’ll post the link in the comments section below.

I think the kids did a great job with their first center day. They really enjoyed the games and also asked some really great questions. I’m hoping to build their confidence in math and show them that it can be fun!


I hope you’ll try to incorporate centers into your classroom as well. It does take a lot of work, but all great things do. 🙂


5 Responses to “Introduction Centers”

  1. paula rager September 8, 2013 at 12:37 am #

    I believe that yu are most wonderful sharing your gift of teaching! Thank you so much.
    How many students are in one of your classes? How do you maintain order? I appreciate any help you could offer.
    Thank you for all you do for teachers and kids!!

  2. Cara Schletzbaum November 26, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Thank you for these Center Ideas. I too am the only Middle School Math teacher, teaching 6th, 7th and 8th grade. I have been meaning to get them used to working in centers and this is a great introduction. Thanks!!!

  3. Lisa December 12, 2013 at 1:26 pm #

    Thank you so much for sharing all your insights and ideas, just thought you’d want to know, the Tarsia website you had doesn’t work anymore :0~ Great ideas, thanks again for sharing. Quick question, how many times and for how long do you do centres every week?

  4. Michelle Chadwell July 9, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    I am just discovering your blog, and I love it. I want to incorporate centers in my 5th grade math class this year. Your blog has been extremely beneficial to my beginning the process. Thank you for the free link.

    One question, do you know of a place I can find instructions on how to use Tarsia? I am having a little trouble understanding how to work with that software.

    Thank you!

  5. Colleen Fyffe July 21, 2016 at 1:23 am #

    I’m sooooooo glad I found your blog! This will be my first year teaching and I took a job at a very, very small school where I am also the ONLY middle school teacher. I am extremely happy that I found another teacher that experiences what I will soon experience. I have been working all summer to try and figure out how to teach not just ONE math class but five different ones of all different grades. I want to thank you so much for posting all of your ideas and teaching techniques. THANK YOU!!!!

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