Organizing Math Centers

Hey there!  It's Nicole from Teaching With Style.  Today I'm going to share how I organize math centers in my classroom.

Last summer, a bunch of bloggers read the book Math Work Stations by Debbie Diller. I read the posts, ordered the book, read it, and became intrigued.

My old school had a math program with a strong center-based component.  My new school's math program centers are terrible.  I knew that I wanted to start math stations in my room.  At first, I was overwhelmed - new school, new grade, new curriculum, AND implementing something I've never done.  But, with some organization, I was able to easily set it up!

Here is where I keep my math centers - in a closet.  When I taught 3rd, I used these drawers on student tables (I didn't have desks) to hold their folders and supplies.  When I moved, I brought them with (since I bought them) but wasn't sure how I would use them.  They've been perfect for centers!  

At the beginning of the year, I let kids pick their math partner.  After I get to know the kids' math skills better, I will assign partners.  Since I have 15 kids during math time (2 leave for resource), I have six groups of two and one group of three - giving me 7 different math centers.  The drawers come in 3's, so I actually have 9 centers set up with 2 out of rotation each day.

One of the first chapters of Debbie Diller's book is how to clean out your supplies and organize for math instruction.  Here are some supplemental supplies I have.  Most are from Donorschoose.  On the top shelf: geoboards, buttons, foam dice (free from Highlights Magazine), bucket of bug manipulatives, colorful buttons.  Behind (you can't see) are more dice (from the Dollar Tree), and two more buckets of manipulatives: sea creatures and jungle creatures.  Under that top shelf are math games that make a quick center: geoboard patterns, 3-D and 2-D shape puzzles, fraction puzzles, and a math intervention kit that I plan to use with small groups in a couple of weeks.  Along the side of the drawers are clear bins of other manipulatives: fraction pieces, money, rubber bands, colored tiles, and teddy bear counters.

Inside the drawers are the games.  I love using games from TpT!  Right now, I have games from Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas and The Teachers' Cauldron!

I keep a center cover, recording sheets, cards, and manipulatives all in the drawer.  I keep the cards in a plastic page protector, where I write the center name and standard on the white part.  That way when I put the center materials back in my filing cabinet, it's easy to see what it is and which standard.

Interested in getting started with organizing your math supplies and centers?  You can check out my supply labels and also my new QR Code Addition centers!

How to do organize your math supplies?


  1. I haven't been brave enough to tackle math centers yet... It's my second year, and I'm starting Daily 5. This makes it look manageable! Pinning now to try later!!

    Mr. First Grade

    1. I wish you luck! I did this method last year with a much larger class - 28. It has worked well for me and once you get it all set up, it's easy to rotate the centers. I also plan to leave pattern block puzzles and geoboards in almost all year because they are easy, fun, and kids have to problem solve. Good luck!

  2. I got literacy work stations launched last year and really would like to get math work stations going this year. Thanks for the tips. Ordering the book now. Teaching with Giggles


Back to Top