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8 Summer Math Centers

Freshen your teaching with these easy ideas.

  • Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

1. Set up a lemonade stand.
Put plastic cups and an easy-pour jug of water (or diluted lemonade) in a center. Have one child be the seller and determine the price of a drink. Her partner can then count out the cost using play money. Drink up, then switch roles!

2. Find buried treasure.
Fill two shoeboxes with sand and a variety of small objects. Each box should have a different number of objects. Label the boxes with made-up beach names, perhaps in honor of your principal or librarian. Challenge children to determine which beach has more items. They can then rebury the treasure and challenge a friend.

3. Guess how hot?
Post the predicted forecast. Invite children to guess whether the actual temperature will be warmer, cooler, or exactly the same as what is forecasted. Have them write "warmer," "cooler," or "same" on slips of paper and put them in a jar. The next morning, count the slips and make a chart showing how many students made each guess. Then check to see which group was right.

4. Count down!
During morning meeting, determine how many days until Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, or a summer holiday of your choosing. Place paper strips in the center, and invite children to make a paper chain with a loop for each day you counted. Place the children's chains on the floor. Are they all the same length? Why or why not? (A child may have used the wrong number or made smaller or bigger loops.) Have children take the chains home to count down with their families.

5. Look for summer shapes.
Laminate pictures of summer scenes, such as a family playing on a beach or flying kites. Place the pictures in a center along with a recording sheet with room for students to tally the number of circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles they see in the pictures. Have children explain to a partner where they saw each kind of shape.

6. Discuss summer plans.
Post questions about what children are doing this summer. For example, "Are you taking swimming lessons?" or "Have you visited an ice cream stand?" Write possible responses on the top of chart paper or an interactive whiteboard, and allow children to make a tally mark in the appropriate column. Discuss the results in your morning meeting.

7. Make cards.
Place a variety of stamps and stickers in a center, along with cardstock and markers. Encourage children to design their cards using a repeating pattern somewhere on the card. When students have finished, have them share their work with the class, explaining the pattern(s) they incorporated into their designs.

8. Go on a nature walk.
Have each student choose one item to bring back to the classroom. Place all of the items in a center and challenge students to order them from lightest to heaviest. Have partners see if they agree with the order. Why or why not?

  • Subjects:
    Summer, Summer Themes
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