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Math Stations

Have You Heard About this Great New Math Practice Site?

Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 8.41.54 PMTell everyone you know about this great new free animated website that helps elementary kids practice math skills by playing games.  This site will remain FREE for at least the next year while improvements and more lessons are added.  Iknowit was built by the makers of Super Teacher Worksheets and Modern Chalkboard, a SMART board lesson site.

The lessons give children immediate feedback so that they know if they have answered each question correctly or incorrectly.  There are drill lessons for basic math facts–addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.  These lessons are timed.   Then there are lessons based on progress in which students answer a certain amount of questions.  Right now the lesson topics include addition, multiplication, division, time, money, fractions, and there are many more to come!

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In the future as a teacher, you can log in and set up a class roster.  You will be able to assign lessons, monitor student scores, and track their progress.  You will also be able to adjust the number of hints children are allowed to have on each problem.  Teachers will be able to set the amount of time students practice drills and set the number of questions a student must answer for a lesson.

Because this small business was set up by teachers, they value teacher’s and student’s constructive feedback as they venture forward with improvements to this site.  You can follow them on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to give your input.  Just imagine a website built with your feedback in mind

How to Intervene with Children Who Don’t Know Their Addition Facts

I have worked with children from 2nd grade on up to help them learn their addition facts.  One common denominator exists among all of these students.  That is THEY DON”T SEE PATTERNS!  I remember having a difficult time learning my 9’s facts when I was growing up.  To help myself, I just took one off of the number I was adding to 9 in the ones place.  I noticed this pattern.  No one taught me this.  When I was growing up, learning facts was like, “Ok, Class, let’s learn all our 8s facts, let’s learn all our 6s facts and so on.”  This is not effective for students who don’t recognize patterns on their own. Now with the common core mathematical practices, we should be teaching children to explore patterns through thoughtful placement of number facts to help them recognize these patterns.  Giving students opportunities to see the patterns will result in more students who are fluent in their facts.  I have shown examples of this before such as in this post about using 10s to help with adding 9s.


But now I have actually put all of my work with struggling learners into a packet which could be used whole group for grades 1 or 2.  At the 3-5 level this could be used for students in intervention or as part of the RTI process.  Here is a look at the packet  that I have put together to help students become fluent with all of their addition math facts.  It is on TPT !







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You can also try out a little sample of this product for FREE here.

Are Your Students Adding and Subtracting 10?

Are you teaching your firsties to add ten, subtract ten, add 1 and subtract 1? The week before Christmas we added this game to one of the selections in the students’ math stations. This game is called “Bubble Gum Pop”. The kids absolutely LOVE it!!! math-7

Students move “bubble gum balls” (bingo chips) up and down the 100’s chart mat according to the spinner. The game is differentiated for students who need more of a challenge so that they can use a mat that counts to numbers past 100 or they can use a bubble gum spinner that allows them to even add or subtract multiples of up to 20.

math-6In this photo above, students are tied with both having an equal number of chips on the board.  The one who knocks the other student’s chips off the board first is the winner.  What makes this game fun is that there is an element of chance when students land on the pictures, their chips are out.  Also, the game requires children to know which direction to move on the board to add or subtract 10s and 1’s so they are learning at the same time.Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 9.21.56 PM

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 9.22.11 PMThe game is also available in color.  I copied it in second grade however on colored paper, but ended up liking the black and white better because I felt the students could see the chips and numbers better on the board.  The color definitely did make the game happier though.math-1


Family Math Night Fun!

Well, I have been scurrying around like a squirrel hiding nuts (and maybe going nuts) these last few days getting ready for our Family Math Night.  I usually plan this as close as I can to our 100th day of school, which happens to be this Thursday!  While getting ready for this event, I have thought about a game I recently made, which first grade really enjoyed!  This game is called Bubble Gum Pop and is centered around adding and subtracting 10’s and 1’s on the hundreds chart.  The game is already differentiated and would be wonderful as a take home game for parents to enjoy with their children!  There is very little prep to this game other than gathering some game pawns and deciding which way you want to use to make a spinner.  There is even an extra engagement factor if you decide to use real bubble gum (flat pieces) for game pawns!

Here is the fun spinner!  Kids place five pawns on the board to start with (scroll farther to see the board).  Then they move those pawns down one square if they land on +10, up one square if they land on -10, to the right one square if they land on +1, and to the left one square if they land on -1.  If students land on the wild space they can move their pawn anywhere on the board.

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If students bump into one another, then they  automatically knock the other pawn out.  Also, if students land outside the perimeter of the chart, their opponent is out.  The object of the game is to knock your opponent’s game pawns off of the board.  Below you can see a sample game in action.

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Here is a look at the game board.

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I will be posting pictures of our Family Math Night soon if you are still needing ideas to help plan yours.

Math Work Stations Experiment Part 2

Finally, onto Math Work Stations in a first grade classroom.  Now remember we explored using stations during the last few weeks of school, so they are lacking in beginning of the year meticulous cutesy-ness!  We set the stations up similar to the way we set them up in 3rd grade.  We had several colored tubs arranged in a shelf like organizer.  (I rescued this out of an old junk room which is the catch-all for teachers’ unwanted items.)  This organizer had eight tubs, and that helped us get started.  The teacher also found some tubs she had that she put with these extra tubs.  We placed this in an easy traffic flow area near the wall.  All the materials needed for each station are stored in each station’s tub.


I must say that the above tub organizer was not the best for stations even though it is what we used–it is what we had to work with at the time.  There was a problem with fitting folders or books into the tubs without them bending when placed on the second or third shelf, as you can see in the picture.  Next year, the teacher is going to use tubs on a bookshelf instead like the 3rd grade teacher.

Because first grade uses literacy centers, the teacher just used the same pocket chart to organize students’ names for math  work stations (remember we are making this simple with only a few weeks left in the year).  Unlike literacy centers which name the station, she chose to just number the stations for the students on the wall and on the tub.  This is what Debbie Diller suggests.

Brightly colored numbers are also placed around the room to guide students into going to the correct place in the room for their math station.  You can see the bright yellow number below.


 Now originally when we put the stations together, I told the teacher I would write the “I Can” statements on the bottom of the tubs.  I did this with illustrations.  Now, Debbie Diller’s book has the “I Can” statements written on the lids of tubs, and a math coach I work with also has the directions labeled on the tub lids.


However, after the first grade teacher saw what the third grade teacher had done by putting the “I Can” statements on the inside of the folder, she, too, opted for putting the “I Can” statements and directions in folders.  She numbered the folders only.  This way the inside of the folder can be switched out without having to buy new folders.



So here are some of the stations and games that we put into place for the 1st graders.  Again,with first grade the target of the stations was fluency with number facts and with counting.

Station 1 was simple and easy–Reflex Math Fact Practice–addition, of course, for 1st grade.

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Station 2

I already showed you the “I Can” statements for Station 2 above in the blue bucket with Ten Sly Piranhas.  Kids could read the book, they could act out the book on the mat with the cubes, or they could write their own Piranhas word problems.  The alligator on the work mat is just something I found on Google images and cut out.


Station 3

This station revolves around counting and number patterns.


One choice the students have is to read 100 Days of Cool by Stuart Murphy.  This book is about counting to 100.  The second choice they have is to use one of four different colored sets of number cards and fill the pocket chart in.  The colored numbers are differentiated to suit both high and low learners.  For example, the white cards span the numbers from 21-120, the green cards span the numbers from 121-220, the orange cards span the numbers from 221-320, and finally the turquoise cards are the most challenging and span the numbers from 921-1,020.  Students select the cards that will best suit their needs.



Above are some cards that the students were filling into the pocket chart.  I chose this picture because the students soon self corrected and noticed that 309 and 318 cannot be in the same column.  Looking at this picture, I am just now realizing that the kids will have to move the numbers down because the rest of the numbers are less than 300.  The kids can grapple with this and figure it out.  However, I’m thinking that writing what number to start with on the baggie would be a better idea.

The above number cards came from a product I made when I realized students cannot count past 100 with a hundreds chart.  The last time I checked the number cards that are sold commercially only go to 120 now.    I’m posting a link to the number cards I made below in case you would like to save yourself the time from making them to fit your chart just right.  The cards come in red on white, white on red, and black on white so that you can make the cards any color you want (like above).

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Finally, the last choice for Station 3 is for students to put together number puzzles which are basically just 100’s charts that have been cut apart.   First, you could try out these whole class (shown below) which are on TPT before having students do them independently in the math station.  For a station, I recommend that the chart be cut apart already because students won’t have time to use scissors in a math station.


Station 4

Station 4 reinforces adding and subtracting one from a number with the story Ten Flashing Fireflies.  The students could read the book, act it out with yellow cubes on the jar work mat, or write their own story problems about Ten Flashing Fireflies in their work station journals.



I got the jar clip art from…you guessed it…Google images.  I think there is an actual jar picture in one of the Math Solutions books, but it was just quicker to find a jar on Google images.  This book is one of my favorites in which the fireflies are being gathered one by one in the jar from the night sky.  The illustrations are compelling.

Station 5

In stations 5 through 12 we included the same activities with the intention to change them out later if the students became bored with the activities.  These stations dealt with adding and subtracting sums of 10 and sums of 20–namely, where we needed the most work, fluency.


The first choice students could work on was “Sums of 10”.  Their second choice was Differences and Dice.  Both of these games can be found in Debbie Diller’s Math Work Stations book in the section about Addition and Subtraction stations.  Also, students had the choice to play Close to 20 which helps them become fluent with larger sums.  The Close to 20 game and score sheet came from a TERC math book.  However, you can easily find Close to 20 instructions and score sheets on the internet in multiple places.  In Close to 20, students  pull out five number cards and try to build a sum as close to 20 as they can.  Close to 20 can be easily differentiated to Close to 100 or Close to 1000 for advanced learners.  The wonderful thing about this station is that every game uses number cards 0-9.  There are also other games that could be incorporated in this same station such as Tens Go Fish, which uses number cards as well.  Later on after math stations were established, the teacher did incorporate the Tens Go Fish Game (another TERC math goody) into this center.  If you plan on doing math centers at any level, number cards are a great thing to have on hand.

MathStations1stgrade-01722The first grade teacher also decided to go with spiral bound notebooks for the students to carry around if they had any writing to do at a math station.  Above shows a student’s recordings of the Close to 20 game.

After experimenting with Debbie Diller’s Math Work Stations at the end of the year, both the 1st and 3rd grade teacher opted for journals that students could carry with them as opposed to community journals.  Also, both teachers next year will include the “I Can” statements and game instructions inside of  paper folders.  My goal in general for our Math Work Stations is that we improve differentiation in each center for low, average, and above average learners.

I hope you can use some of these content ideas for stations in your classroom next year!

You may also like to read this post about our 3rd grade math station experiment:


or this addition/subtraction freebie for math stations…

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Math Work Stations Experiment Part 1

Last time, I told you all about my experiment with Debbie Diller’s Math Work Stations.  Well, it is about 5 weeks into the experiment, and I am loving the idea.  Using math stations does however take excellent classroom management skills, but more about that later.  The pictures below show a 3rd grade teacher’s classroom.  She is an excellent classroom manager and very organized.  Once I helped get her station activities together and discussed the details of running the stations, she made the math stations her own.   Because we only had a few weeks until the end of the school year, and I was concerned about the students’ fluency with multiplication, we focused most of the math stations around multiplication.  Some of the stations are built around multi-digit addition and subtraction to keep this skill fresh in their minds also.

The station tubs are located on a back shelf in the classroom.


There are numbered labels on each tub and little stickers on the shelf below so that students can find the correct place to put the tub when it is returned to the shelf.


The numbers coordinate to a chart which is numbered with the students’ names on it.  The teacher put the name on the chart of one of the activities in the tub in addition to the number to make it easier for herself to manage.


I blocked out the students’ names on the cards for their privacy, but on each pink card and on each yellow card there are two names.  The pink cards are her first class and the yellow cards are her second class.  Our school departmentalized math this year.  Students work in pairs in each class.  We initially started with only one station and after a few weeks worked up to more than one.  In Debbie Diller’s book, she says  to start with one for about 20 minutes and do no more than 2 a day totaling about 40 minutes (50 with rotations and cleanup etc.)  We placed matching numbers in the room so that students would know exactly where to go when their name was on a particular math station.  We also placed these numbers in sequential circular order around the room so that students could easily rotate without running into one another.

In most stations we gave students three choices to pick from which is what Debbie says to do in her book.  That way students feel empowered with the fact that they get to make choices.  Each of the choices at a station relate to each other.  If students don’t want to do one of the games/activities at a station, they have other choices to pick from.  Also, if they aren’t as confident with one activity, they can pick a different activity.


In station 1 we placed several addition/ subtraction games which use some of the same materials.  The games we included were Close to 100, Close to 0 (basically the same game but subtracting),


and addition/subtraction tic tac toe.  Close to 100 and Close to 0 are both games that can be found in the TERC math series.  This is out of print, but many buildings have copies of these.  Both games use number cards.  TMathStationsforBlog-01678

The addition/subtraction tic-tac-toe is teacher made.  One student answers the problem.  the other student in the pair checks the problem.  If the problem is correct, then the first student may place a marker on his problem space.  Just like in real tic-tac-toe, the first player to have 3 in a row wins.  The three colors of boards are three different levels of problem boards.MathStationsforBlog-01676


I found that both teachers in first and 3rd liked to organize their games in pocket folders.

In station 2 we built the activities around Amanda Bean’s Amazing Dream.  This is a fun book with lots of multiplication applications on each page.


In this station students can read the book, work out word problems from the word problem sheet, or create their own word problem stories.


The cake work mat and word problem sheets come from my Discovering the Commutative Property of Multiplication Unit.

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Station 3 is a Multiplication Bump game that she got from TPT.  Because there are several different game boards, we didn’t provide many options at this station.  I have really enforced calling them “Math Work Stations” like Debbie Diller suggests so students remember they are working–NOT playing.  I also really like how the teacher took this to heart.  Instead of writing I can “play” this or that game, she wrote I can “work” on this game on the I CAN statement sheets.


Station 4, 5, and 6 are duplicates of other stations.  Station 7 is a computer station where students are practicing math facts on Reflex Math.  Station 8 is also a duplicate.  When getting started Debbie Diller says it is fine to duplicate stations so that you aren’t overwhelmed.  Because the length of time between when students will be at the same station again is several days, students are okay with a repeated station.

Below is station 9.  This station revolves around multiplication as arrays.  The 100 Hungry Ants book is about ants in arrays and one of students’ choices is to read the book.  Another choice is for students to write their own story problem about arrays with ants on a paper plate…how darling…right?  I even suggested that the teacher hang the plates outside her door on a checkered table cloth. (plastic ones are available at the Dollar Tree as I type)  Students can also play Array Card Game War, which basically works like regular War but with multiplication facts to go with the Array Cards.  This is another TERC math goody in the Things that Come in Groups book.

MathStationsforBlog-01688I included this speech bubble card which Debbie Diller suggests to help students use math language while they are playing games.  We didn’t make them for all of the stations, so I cannot speak to their effectiveness.


Station 10 includes two different publisher made games for multiplication.  One is Four in a Row and the other is Hit the Road.  These are both games the teacher just had in a file.  I am pretty confident you could easily find a game like Four in a Row on the internet because I have come across several games like this before.


At Station 11, students could read the book Each Orange Had 8 Slices.  They could solve the problems in the book, or they could write their own problems like the ones in the book.


The above notebook shows an example of some student work that took place while the students were traveling in their math stations.  This teacher opted to have each student carry his/her own journal around to each station as opposed to having a community journal at the station.  This is a teacher’s personal choice.  Students head the page with their math game/activity title, date and math station number.



The classroom teacher also incorporated a missing pieces bucket like Debbie Diller suggests.

And we must mention last but not least BORING STREET.  This was a first grade teacher’s idea.  This is where you go when you are not behaving at Math Work Stations.  This is a collection of boring math work that you can do while everyone else is playing  fun math games.  The work must be turned in at the end of math station time.  MathStationsforBlog-01671

Next year, we will know just what to expect for Math Work Stations and we can make them even better since we did this end of the year experiment.  Up in the next few days…our Math Work Station experiment in 1st grade!

An Exploration of Math Stations

Maybe I’m a little late to jump on the Math Station band wagon, but when anyone mentioned math stations to me, all I heard was centers.  I didn’t feel that math stations were the right thing for our school until I read Debbie Diller’s Math Work Stations book.  So began my math workstations journey.


The book completely changed my mind about implementing stations.  I LOVE IT!

After reading this book, I decided to experiment with the idea of math stations in a 1st grade and 3rd grade classroom.  Right now we are getting them set up–deciding what activities to place in each station, making locations for each station in the room etc.  Since it is the end of the year, I knew we could spend time working out kinks with stations so that we could start out full force with math stations next year.  I will be writing more about our math stations with photos included coming soon.

I am including a freebie here for now that you may want to use in one of your math stations.  This sheet will go with an addition/subtraction station like one of the activities Debbie Diller suggests so that students may mark off the facts they know.  Click the blue link to download a copy.

AdditionFactsOrganized By Helping Strategy

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If you are using Debbie Diller’s math stations, I would love to hear about your experiences with what worked and what didn’t.  Please comment below. 🙂

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