Calendar and Math Centers

As a part of Hawaii's new educator evaluation system, each teacher has to write a Student Learning Objective.  We choose a standard to work on almost all year.  We pre-test to set a baseline and then predict how much progress each child will make throughout the year.  We teach, review, formatively assess, review some more, and then we give the final assessment.  The percentage of students who met the benchmark we predicted at the beginning of the year is part of how we are evaluated as successful educators.

My grade level chose place value, specifically Common Core standard 1.NBT.2, to focus on for our Student Learning Objective.  Many of my kids were confused as to how to decompose two digit numbers and are clueless about expanded form.

To help practice each day, I added some place value routines to our calendar time.
Check out my Calendar Sets on TpT!

Here is our routine, all lead by the weekly calendar helper.
  1. Sing the Days of the Week song (helper gets to choose either the Addams' Family tune or She'll be Comin' Round the Mountain)
  2. Practice saying the date as the calendar helper points to it's components.  For example, on March 23rd we said "Today is Monday (helper pointed to the Monday card across the top of the calendar) March (pointed to the March month card at the top) 23rd (pointed to today's card that says 23) 2015 (points to the year card next to the month card at the top).  This helps kids practice saying the date as a complete sentence and also the grammar of saying March 23rd instead of March 23.  
  3. I then change the day's number at the top (3-23-15) so they learn how we write the date.  Now we've practiced how to say it in words and how to write it in numbers.  That's why I have a 3 card next to the month at the top of the calendar pocket chart, to correspond with the 3 in our written date.  
  4. I then have the kids tell me how many tens and how many ones are in today's date number.  I wrote this in the same format as our math curriculum, Origo's Stepping Stones.  They call that little 2-box graph an "expander".  Kids start by making expanders so they can see how 2 tens and 3 ones can be put together to make 23.  

  5. Kids bring their whiteboards, markers, and erasers with them to calendar each day.  Once we are done with all the calendar business, they then write number sentences that equal the day's number.  So for the day I took this picture, they all equaled 23.  After they have each written a few, they share out.  The calendar helper calls on 2 girls and 2 boys to share and write's then on a large whiteboard for everyone to see.  There needs to be 2 addition and 2 subtraction sentences.  When all 4 are written on the board, the help uses a pointer to lead the class in reading all 4 number sentences together.   
  6. We then move to the Hundred's Chart and the kids practice skip counting.  It's always by 5's but sometimes we start at 5 and count up and sometimes we start at 100 and count down.  Counting down was SUPER hard for then at the beginning of the year.  Now they are pros! 
  7. We then move to the place value chart and add a number to keep track of how many days we've been in school.  They add a number card and also add a place value cube.  Then there are 10 ones cubes, they trade them out for a rod.  When there are 10 rods, they trade them out for a flat. 
  8. We then sing the Doubles Rap to help us memorize the doubles facts.  We sing it  They even made up their own motions to the lyrics.  So stinkin' cute! 
    From First Grade Fresh
  9. Lastly, we count to ten in Hawaiian.  I use the posters from Surfin' Through Second.  I love this part of our routine because even though my school has a Hawaiian Immersion program, the regular classes don't get much Hawaiian instruction, it's up to the individual teacher.  This helps me (non-Hawaiian haole lady) connect the language to math.  
This routine takes 10-15 minutes and the kids are seriously sad if we skip it! They love knowing what comes next and the calendar helper LOVES being the leader for the day!

You can see a few of the activities incorporate place value practice.  That's how I sneak it it EVERYDAY! :)

Another thing I do pretty much every day is math centers.  I do four different centers: Math with the teacher (small group lesson), Math by Myself (Math journal work), Math with Technology (X-tra Math and then SumDog), and Math with a Buddy (math center games).

Click on the picture to check out these posters on TpT

Of course it's easy to differentiate and provide practice and instruction for place value in the teacher group, because I get to pick what the kids do that week.  That's when I would introduce skills, such as expanded form, that are not necessarily covered in our whole group math curriculum.  But it's also easy to do all that during Math with a Buddy, AKA center games.  

I used this wooden stand and containers from Lakeshore Learning for my math centers.  The green buckets contained activities for Operations and Algebraic Thinking standards.  The blue containers had activities for Numbers in Base Ten standards.  The orange buckets are for Geometry and Measurement activities.  When at Math with a Buddy, students can choose which activity to do, but they must work with a partner and they must turn in the recording sheet for me to look at later.  This helps tell me if they got the concept, or if we need to do more practice in the Meet with the Teacher group.      

As to which activities I would put in these boxes, I would always choose skills that we were currently working on and then fill the rest of the boxes with review.  Since Place Value was the focus for my Student Learning Objective, I ALWAYS had a place value option. 

Here are a few of the activities that worked well for my class.  Just click on any of the pictures to see them on TpT! 
Great for centers and review! The comparing numbers component fit in perfectly with our curriculum at the end of the year! 

Super fun review for center games! 

The kids LOVED making their houses.  And it was a great display to show what we were learning! 

This pack is FULL of fun ideas for centers for the beginning of the year and review throughout the year! 

PERFECT for math journals and small group work for Meet With the Teacher.

My students loved these!

This FREEBIE pack of word problems and riddles was great for number of the day and bringing in place value! 

Is there one particular skill that you have to make sure to teach and review all year, too?


  1. Many great ideas here. Thank you for sharing them with us!

  2. Thank you for such a clear description of your morning routine! Love all your math selections, too! I will be exploring each of them. BTW, where did you get your pennant banner "FIRST GRADE"? It is adorable!

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