This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Duck Brand. All opinions are 100% mine.
Math centers. Once they’re organized and ready to go, they’re awesome – especially for primary grades.
Kids can rotate from station to station, completing hands-on learning activities and getting some practice for concepts you’ve gone over in class.
It’s the prepping part that is…a challenge.
If you’re looking for some tips on how to prep a math center faster, here are three suggestions that have been working for me.
Even better, one of my math center prep hacks makes it easy to clean activities in between groups of students. Which is super important, especially these days.
Read on to read my math center prep tips! And, for more fun math activities for early grades, take a look at my list of printable counting puzzles!
Three Tips for How to Prep a Math Center – Fast!
1. Choose the activities you plan to include before you print.
This is a mistake I’ve made all too often. I love the center and the activities in it, so I think “I’ll use all of these!” and I print the entire thing.
Reality: I never end up using everything. Never.
There are a couple of activities that are a big hit and those are the ones the kids want to do again and again. Huge waste of time (and ink!)
Scroll through the center to find the worksheets or activities that will be a good fit for your students.
Write down the page numbers for printing those specific pages. Then start printing what you need.
2. Gather up the manipulatives and tools you’ll need for each activity.
Math center activities for early grades usually include different kinds of tools and movable pieces.
I find it best to get all of these items together before I start preparing the center itself.
When I’m prepping center activities, I tend to use hook and loop sticky dots, scissors, and O rings.
The activities are designed for use with dry erase markers (or crayons), transparent spinners, and clothespins, among other manipulatives.
So I put all of the tools I need to prep the center in one group and the tools students will need to use the center in another.
Then I’m not running back and forth to my desk when I need to switch from assembling one activity to another.
And I already have the items students will use for the center in one place too. That makes it much easier to organize each activity as I go along.
3. Use clear laminate to cover each activity or worksheet page.
But my absolute favorite tip for how to prep a math center is to use clear laminate to cover every activity.
Personally, I’m partial to the Smooth Top® EasyLiner® from Duck Brand.
Clear laminate works just like the laminating sheets in your laminator.
The advantage is that you don’t have to wait for the laminator to heat up (which seems to take forever).
And, you don’t have to wait in line to use the machine (which also seems to take forever).
EasyLiner® also comes with helpful gridlines that make measuring the right amount a snap!
I just roll out several inches of the clear laminate – gridlines facing up.
Then I lay the activity page on top. The edge of the page is my measuring line.
Cut the length of clear laminate you need.
The gridlines side is the removable piece you’ll need to peel off. I find it best to snip a tiny corner off.
Then it’s easier to peel the backing off in one piece, which avoids leaving crease marks on the laminate.
Lay the laminate down, sticky side up. Then place the activity directly on top, face down.
Flip the page over, add a second sheet to cover the back (if needed), smooth it out, and you’re done!
All that’s left now is to cut out any activity pieces and add other items (such as the sticky dots you see above).
Removable Adhesive EasyLiner has another advantage: It wipes clean.
So, if you need to sanitize your math center activities in between groups, you can use cleaning wipes on the pages with no problem.
I love clear laminate for making dry erase activities in my centers.
With it, I can turn any printable worksheet into a reusable center activity.
When the pages are covered with clear laminate, I can let students use dry erase markers or dry erase crayons.
Then just use a napkin (or a napkin plus water for wet erase markers) and we’re good to go for the next group!
Watch me cover a math center activity with clear laminate below!
I hope these tips for how to prep a math center faster have been of help to you.
If you use any in your classroom, let me know which ones worked!
See more of my apple-themed math center activities for early grades below!