When I first made my Common Core Math Centers, it was because I was in desperate need of something to use to teach the "new math standards" to my students. My state had adopted the CC standards, but at the time, teachers did not have any new materials to support them.

I was still learning how to make math time work in my classroom, and I hated how much time I spent prepping math centers every week. Not to mention how much time I had to spend teaching my class how to use the various centers. And then, they played the centers during Guided Math time...but I had no idea how they were doing. Were they using their time wisely? Were they getting the problems correct?

I decided to create some "simple" math centers that addressed the new standards, that were easy for me to prep and didn't require me to explain how to use them every day. I put the standard on the top with a simple I can statement. (That year my district was big on having students explain what they were working on. They were doing a lot of pop up visits and would ask students, what are you learning? I realized having the I Can statement directly with the center would help students always understand the focus of their activity.)

After I made my third grade centers, I used them with my class. I had a a few copies of the centers cut apart and I put them each in quart sized bags. I passed out various centers to my class and decided to see what they would do with them without any directions. Amazingly, they started coming up with ways to play them. There were ways I expected--matching, playing with a partner, but there were other ways that surprised me. One partner pair was playing memory. Another partner pair was playing Go Fish.

Since all of the math centers follow the same basic "matching" format I decided to let my students take turns sharing with each other how they liked to play the games.

These are some of my favorite ways to use them:
First, as independent practice during my math lesson. I give students the question sheet, and have them HAND WRITE their answers in their notebook. I walk around and check them, and THEN I give them the answer sheet to cut apart and glue over their handwritten answers.

Straightforward matching. You can put stickers or draw symbols on the back to make these self checking. If you don't want to do that, you can have students record the problem and their answers on a sheet of paper (or in their math notebooks) to submit to you. It won't really require "grading," but you can easily skim through these to make sure they are on the right track.

If you don't put matching symbols on the back, students can use the cards to play memory. They can also play Go Fish. Example with this game: If student is hold 64/8 they can ask their partner, do you have an 8? If not, partner says, "Go Fish" and student can pick up extra card from pile. If you like this way of playing, you can even copy the game twice to make extra cards.

One of the greatest things about these centers is the many ways you can use them. Letting students play these throughout the year is a great way to spiral review and keep the skills fresh in their head.

To learn ways to hold your students accountable for their time playing these centers, download this freebie.

You can also grab these math centers (for grades 1-5) here!

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These standards aligned centers are easy for teachers to prep. The common core standard and I can statement is listed directly on the center so your students always understand what they are learning. Check out the many different ways you can use the centers in your classroom. These are available for first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, and fifth grade!

You know small group instruction is the best way to support your students. But maybe it's just not working in your classroom. Many teachers are ready to move away from "set" groups during Guided Math but aren't sure what the alternative is. The traditional set groups require students to stay with a group of classmates while they rotate between various tables or activities throughout the room, including the teacher table. However, this traditional set up can lead to a lot of frustration and really makes things complicated when you are trying to adjust your groups for each topic you teach.

Here are the problems with traditional set groups:

  • Students are with the same classmates for the entire Guided Math time period. This may be anywhere for 45 minutes up to 90 minutes. This often leads to behavior issues.
  • It is difficult to change who is in which group meaning your groups are likely to stay the same. Once again, this forces students to be with the same classmates for long periods of time.
  • If you do try to change up your groups, it can be complicated explaining it to students and teachers often find it is easier to just leave everything how it is
  • You are constantly having to prep enough work or activities to keep them busy while they are at each station or group (This means you are planning 3 to 5 things for math time every day)
  • Rotation times tend to be equal times in length so students have enough time to do the work of each rotation
  • There are often no other adults to help manage a group of students moving around the room together
  • Differentiating is very difficult. At best you can differentiate between groups, but it's hard to plan that many activities.

Why "Flexible" Guided Math Groups Work:

  • Your only set rotation is Meet With Teacher
  • You can spend as much or as little time as you want with each group
  • Your students are still pulled to your table in groups--however, its much easier to switch them up depending on how they perform with the objective
  • Students spend a majority of the time working independently instead of with the same classmates
  • Students have the freedom of choice
  • It is much easier to differentiate

Here's How It Works:

M-Meet with Teacher (You pull "groups" to your table. Medium-high-low is the order I pull.)

Everyone else:
A-At your seat (Some type of work that you require your students to complete. I use my Guided Math practice pages.) (Differentiate as needed with these.)
T-Technology (I require my students to complete Xtramath for fluency practice--they have to take turns) (Xtramath automatically differentiates!)
H-Hands On (Students get to choose what activity to work on. Freedom of choice makes them more likely to be on task. I allow my students to do Extension activities from my Guided Math bundles, plus Common Core Math Centers). I rotate these throughout the year to help spiral review things we have learned. Also--another way to differentiate is by telling a student, hey once you are done with your work, I want you to work on the rounding center.

ALL of the A-T-H work happens at their desks or in quiet places around the room. Students earn the privilege to do H (hands on activities) with a partner. In the meantime, while students are doing these things, they are also being pulled to my group for Meet with teacher.

Want to learn even more? I have an entire blog post where I explain my Guided Math Set Up. In this post I go a bit more in depth and give you a peek inside my math block. Plus, you can get a free sample day of Guided Math for your grade level!

You can get Guided Math Resources from my TpT store.

First Grade Guided Math
Second Grade Guided Math
Third Grade Guided Math
Fourth Grade Guided Math
Fifth Grade Guided Math

Download a FREE Flexible Guided Math How To Guide Book here! This will help you wrap your mind around how you can make Guided Math work for you!

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Teaching Place Value to Fifth Graders

One of the hardest concepts to teach in fifth grade is the value of places. See the standard below.
5.NBT.1 Recognize that in a multi-digit number, a digit in one place represents 10 times as much as it represents in the place to its right and 1/10 of what it represents in the place to its left. 

This standard takes the previously taught fourth grade standard a bit deeper. Understanding this standard is really important as it prepares students to understand the meaning of exponents.

Standard to review before you teach 5.NBT.1:

4.NBT.1 Recognize that in a multi-digit whole number, a digit in one place represents ten times what it represents in the place to its right.

-prepares students for understanding how numbers can increase (and decrease) by 10 and 1/10

This back to school place value review can help you review the fourth grade concepts while preparing students' thinking for the fifth grade standard. Students will look at the value of an underlined and circle digit and will compare how much smaller/larger they are.

This skill practice sheet is a great way for students to review this fourth grade math skill and prepare them for understanding 5.NBT.1. (Grab it for free down below!)

Free Download:

5th Grade Place Value Review


How Many Times (Arrows & Task Cards for Place Value 4.NBT.1 and 5.NBT.1)
5th Grade Guided Math Place Value

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This free place value review helps prepare fifth graders for understanding exponents. Use it to review concepts taught in fourth grade as you prepare them for the deeper understanding they will encounter in fifth grade. 5.NBT.1 4.NBT.1

Teaching Place Value to Fourth Graders

Most teachers are able to jump right into place value at the beginning of the year with their fourth graders without much review. The standard 4.NBT.2 is a deeper level of understanding (and uses much larger numbers) from the second grade NBT standards. The skills of using base ten blocks, writing numbers in different forms, and comparing numbers is much the same.

However, one of the hardest concepts to teach in fourth grade is the value of places. See the standard below.
4.NBT.1 Recognize that in a multi-digit whole number, a digit in one place represents ten times what it represents in the place to its right.

Standard to review before you teach 4.NBT.1:

3.NBT.3 Multiply one-digit whole numbers by multiples of 10 in the range 10-90 using strategies based on place value and properties of operations
-prepares students for understanding how numbers can increase (and decrease) ten times.

Not only is it important for students to understand multiplying by ten means ten times more and dividing by ten means ten times less, but students also need to understand the value of the digit has changed. Having a solid understanding of this in fourth grade will help prepare students for more difficult skills and concepts, such as exponents, that come in later grades.

This skill practice sheet is a great way for students to review this third grade math skill and prepare them for understanding 4.NBT.1. (Grab it for free down below!)

Free Download:

4th Grade Place Value Review


How Many Times (Arrows & Task Cards for Place Value 4.NBT.1 and 5.NBT.1)
4th Grade Guided Math Place Value

Don't forget to pin it for later so you can find it!


Scroll down to take a look at some of what is included in this 130 page Structure and Properties of Matter unit. This unit aligns to NGSS* 2-PS1-1, 2-PS1-2, 2-PS1-3, and 2-PS1-4.
Here is the table of contents. Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Structure and Properties of Matter

Here's a tiny bit of what's included.
 This unit focuses on the different types of matter, properties of matter, heating and cooling changes, as well as building objects from a set of pieces.

Photo posters are included for each topic to visually support learning.

There are also non-fiction mini books throughout the unit, as well as interactive notebook activities. The unit also includes some non-fiction passages, and plenty of hands on science activities!

This was just a preview! For a FULL list of resources included in this 130 page Structure & Properties of Matter unit, please see the table of contents or check out the 26 page preview by following the link to my TpT store!
2nd Grade NGSS unit on structure and properties of matter. Students will learn about solids, liquids, and gases, as well as the properties of matter. Students will also learn about building objects from a set of pieces and heating and cooling changes that are reversible and nonreversible. There are mini books, posters, vocabulary, interactive notebook pieces, and many hands on science activities to keep students engaged in their learning.

*NGSS and Next Generation Science Standards are a registered trademark of Achieve. Neither Achieve nor the lead states and partners that developed the Next Generation Science Standards was involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.


Teaching Place Value to Third Graders

When you think of place value, you probably think of base ten blocks, expanded form, and written form. Place value skills, like these, are not a concept specifically taught in third grade (Common Core). However, it can be hard to jump into the school year without having reviewed various place value concepts taught in previous grades. But, you don't want to simply teach these place value concepts again. It is important to review them with a purpose.

Standards to review right away:

2.NBT.1 Understand that the three digits of a three-digit number represent the amounts of hundreds, tens, and ones
-prepares students for adding and subtracting, as well as rounding three-digit numbers to the nearest ten and hundred

Students simply understanding what the digits represent is not enough for third grade. Third graders must understand adding and taking away a ten or hundred from a number. What order do the tens fall in? For example: If you gave students the number 316, could they tell you what tens the number fell between? Could they tell you what hundreds it fell between? Understanding this will help third graders have success with rounding. After all, we don't want to simply teach students a rhyme for rounding. We want them to have an understanding of why numbers round where they do. Can students plot a number on a number line if given the first number of the number line? This skill is imperative for rounding.

The skill practice sheet is great for reviewing second grade math skills and getting students ready for rounding. (Grab it for free down below)

2.NBT.2 Count within 1,000; skip count by 5's, 10's and 100's
-sets up a strong foundation for arithmetic patterns (3.OA.9) and multiplication

Skip counting is more than just being able to rattle off 5, 10, 15, 20, etc... It helps students understand arithmetic patterns. It also helps students quickly memorize their multiplication facts.

Free downloads:

Skip Counting Field Day
Place Value Review for Incoming Third Graders


3rd Grade Guided Math Rounding
3rd Grade Back to School Math Review
3rd Grade Guided Math Multiplication Basics
3rd Grade Guided Math Multiplication and Division Applications 
Skip Counting Photo Puzzles

Don't forget to pin it for later so you can find it! :)
It is important to review second grade place value skills with a purpose to prepare third graders for the standards they will be taught. Instead of simply reviewing hundreds, tens, and ones, use this free download to help prepare your students for rounding!

Learn even more about teaching rounding to third graders in this post!

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