3rd Grade Math Centers

Instructor: Leah Salyer
Math centers are a great way to reinforce math concepts while also allowing the teacher the opportunity to work one-on-one or in small groups with students. Read on to learn more about activities that can be used in math centers in a 3rd grade classroom.

Math Center Activities

Teachers interested in a flexible and fun option for keeping students interested in math can set up 3-4 math centers in their classroom and rotate students through the games and activities included in each one. These math centers can be centered around activities that reinforce the different arithmetic operations students are learning in class. Skill-based centers tailored to fit the instructional needs of individual students are also an option. Some sample activities that might be used in arithmetic math centers are outlined below.

Math Text Conversation

Create a center where students can get comfortable and read math texts. These could include books about patterns, shapes and counting. Students should also have a chance to discuss the books they're reading.

Array Math Problems

Ask your students to select one card from an array picture card set. Students will then write multiplication and division word problems as well as multiplication and division number sentences for each one. Students continue to cycle through the cards until it's time to rotate to another center.

To help your students review the steps involved in solving word problems and explore the use of images when coming up with a solution, have them check out these lessons on Word Problems before breaking out into math centers.

What's the Missing Number - Multiplication

Create cards or boards listing equations with missing numbers, such as 4 x ? = 20. Give your students counters labeled 0-9 or, if the missing number boards are laminated, they can use dry erase markers. Students place their counters or write the correct number where it's missing in order to complete the math problems. Students can continue to choose a new card once one is completed for the duration of the center.

If you're looking for additional resources, take a look at these lessons on Multiplication. The short videos can help reinforce your students' understanding of multiplication, and the self-checking quizzes can give them extra problem-solving practice.

Rounding Game

For this center, students need to work in pairs. Give each pair a stack of cards with the numbers 0-9 written on them. Students take 2 cards apiece and place them side by side to represent a 2-digit whole number they can round to the nearest ten. Whoever has the highest rounded number keeps all 4 cards. Students continue to play until the entire deck is gone or until it's time to rotate centers.

To get additional activity ideas, check out this lesson on 3rd Grade Rounding Games. You can also introduce students to this topic with lessons on Estimation and Rounding.

What's the Missing Number - Division

Students also work in pairs for this activity. They each receive a laminated game board with two columns of division problems that contain missing numbers. Students then draw shuffled cards labeled 1-10. If students draw a card that can be used on their game board, they will use a dry erase marker to write the number where it fits and complete the equation. If a card can't be used, they will turn it face down and add it back to the stack of shuffled cards. The activity continues until all the problems are completed on the board or until the next center rotation.

Consider viewing these lessons on Divison to review problem-solving steps with your students before beginning this math center activity.

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