Back to School Math Centers and Activities

back to school, math

The beginning of the year is a great time to observe students counting and number sense skills.  Here are some of the simple activities I like to use.

1. Counting Boxes:
I found these cute containers at Dollar Tree.  You get 10 in a package for $1. I put small objects in each container; paper clips, counters, tiny erasers, links, play money, etc.  You can use anything you have on hand.
Then I labeled the front of the containers with a sharpie.  You could just put a number.  I put a number and what is inside.
To use the activity, students take a container and count how many objects are inside.  Then they record the number on the recording sheet.
Click here to get the recording sheet.

This activity is great as a center.  It also works well for small-group table time, you can make some great observations/anecdotal notes of students counting skills this way.

2.  Counting Mats:
This is a fun and simple activity! Students need a felt mat or piece of large piece of construction paper as a work space.  Add a set of number cards (you decide how high you would like them to go), and some fun manipulatives, and this center is ready to go.  Students grab a number card and count out that many objects.  The little pom-poms above are really fun to use.  Try to set out a variety of objects to make it more fun for students.

3. Number Strips:

This activity can be done whole class or as a center.  Give each student a strip of adding machine tape about 3 feet long.  They can tape it to a desk or table. You want them to write with the paper vertical so that each number has it’s own line, so they don’t have to worry about spaces between numbers. Students start at one and write as far as they can. If they fill the whole strip, they can tape another strip onto it and keep going. I have been using this activity for years, and they always LOVE it.  I think it is because they like to see how long their strip is.  It is a little messy, but worth it.  When students finish, I try to roll them up and rubber band them.  Later, I do a quick check to see where they are in their understanding of numbers.  I make myself a few quick notes about how far they can write, if they have reversals, etc.  It is a great way to get some quick data on students math skills.

4. Dry Erase Boards:
Students use these simple task cards and dry erase boards to draw pictures to represent numbers.
Click here to get the task cards.

I hope this gives you some easy math ideas that you can use the first week or two back at school.

Happy Teaching!


Hi, I’m Jaymie! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I taught for 17 years including 12 years in First Grade, 4 years as a Reading Interventionist, and 1 year in Pre-K. 

I have a passion for creating rigorous, easy to use primary resources that require little or no prep! I hope you find some easy ideas to take back to your classroom or use in your homeschool!

Blog post with 7 activities for teaching CVC words.

CVC Word Activities

Looking for engaging ways to help students learn to read and write CVC Words? Check out this list of 7 fun CVC word activities!

Math centers to use in your first grade classroom during the spring.

Math Centers in the Classroom: Spring

Math centers are such a great classroom management tool to use in your first-grade classroom! They...
Cover image for March math center ideas for first grade

Math Center Ideas for 1st Grade: March

Here are some easy math center ideas for March that your first graders will love using!

This blog post shares 10 ideas for February math centers to use in first grade.

February Math Centers for First Grade

Keep your first graders engaged during the month of February with these ten new math centers. A variety of skills are reviewed including fact fluency, place value, measurement and geometry.

3 ways to organize math centers

Organizing Math Centers: 3 Storage Options

Are you looking for the perfect way to organize your math centers? I’m sharing three creative and attractive options for storing them.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share This

Share this post with your friends!