Centers can take a great deal of time to prepare. These low prep hands-on Math Centers for K-2 will keep students happily engaged and save you time! The best thing about these centers is that you will have most of the materials already on hand in your classroom!
Dice games are fantastic for low prep Math Centers in grades K-2 because they require very few materials! Did you know dice come in a variety of shapes and sizes? Yes! There are 4 sided dice, 6 sided, 8 sided, 10 sided, 12 sided, 20 sided, even 100 sided dice! My kiddos are always captivated by the idea that dice are not all six-sided!
You can use the six-sided dice in a variety of ways for these low prep centers but if you have or wish to invest in some of the others, they can transform a center instantly!
Roll and Add
Students roll two (or more) dice and add them together. Use dice with numbers instead of pips to kick this center up a notch or to differentiate. Another way to add another layer to the center is to have them write the equation and sum.
Add manipulatives for younger learners or to differentiate.
Use 10 sided dice for practicing sums to 20.
Sparklebox has a variety of free ready-to-print Roll and Add templates that are perfect for low prep math centers!
Roll and Cover Math Games
Students roll the dice and cover the correct answer. Use the roll and cover low prep math games in K-2 to teach, number recognition, addition, subtraction, and more! To get started with these games simply write numbers on a plain sheet of paper. Then, make a few copies, add some dice and counters, and it’s ready! To make the game more colorful, I used colored dot stickers on a colored piece of card stock and placed it in a page protector. The page protector prevents damage, and I can store them in a three-ringed binder later for easy storage.
The wonderful thing about these centers, is that to switch it up and make it new, you just change up either the game board or objects used to ‘cover’ the board! The Dollar Tree is a fabulous place to find counters to jazz up your Math Centers. For more amazing teacher finds at the Dollar Tree check out my blog post Teachers Save Money at the Dollar Tree.
Bump games are a great way to jazz up roll and cover games! Just like with traditional roll and cover games students roll dice and cover the corresponding number (solution). The fun twist in Math Bump Games is that student’s opponent can ‘Bump’ their piece from the board! If kiddos are ready you can add the twist that a student must cover that particular number two times before it is safe from the dreaded ‘Bump’!
Use pieces that can stack or connect for Bump Games. This is a great use for those stacking cubes you probably have forty million of stashed away! Legos are fun for this game as well!
Students can practice matching numbers to the written number word in this simple Bump or Roll and Cover Game. Use Word to create a quick template, use the insert shape option, write in the number words, add a die and some legos and you are all set for this low prep math center game!
Card Games for Math Centers
Cards are just as versatile as dice, making them perfect for low prep math centers! First, the basic Uno Game is perfect for young learners, it involves matching colors and numbers. It’s great for number recognition practice as well without any modifications.
You can turn the basic Uno Card game into a variety of other low prep centers too. Check out my recent blog post Fun Math Games to Play with Uno Cards. The entire blog post is dedicated to a variety of ways to use Uno Cards for Low Prep Math Centers!
This game below requires Uno cards, that’s it! As students play Uno, they simply have to double the amount of their discard. Uno card games are great for differentiation during math centers, all levels can play together.
Students play Uno, but add their discard to the number on the top of the discard pile for fact fluency practice. You can easily switch this up to focus on a particular strategy, adding 1, 2, 3.
Bins – Sorting, Counting, Measuring
Sorting bins are fantastic for low prep math centers! Use paper plates for an easy color sorting low prep math center.
Switch your ‘sorting center’ to a ‘counting center’ by simply adding paper plates with numbers!
Use common classroom items to create a quick Measuring Center!
Math Memory Games
Memory is one of my favorite games to put to use in centers. The kids always enjoy it and never tire of it! Most kiddos are already familiar with the basic concept of the game and play is simple. The only thing required for this center is the cards. Memory Math is fantastic for practicing number recognition, addition, subtraction, and more. The key to learning with memory games is to have students read the card every time they turn one over! This is a requirement for all of my Memory Games.
Here my Second Graders are playing Doubles Memory Match. They have to ‘match’ the ‘equation’ with the correct ‘sum’. This concept can be used with any addition and subtraction memory card came.
Number Recognition Memory
Students match numbers. Put all those random loose bulletin-board die-cut pieces to great use in making low-prep math centers! Again, remind students to say the number every time they turn a card over.
Counting and Cardinality Memory Game
Students match numbers to the card with the corresponding number of objects.
Students swat numbers, equations, sums, or differences in this fun low prep Math Center! Use a hula hoop to keep this center organized and add a little jazz to it. If you do not have any flyswatters, just use the pointers you already have in the classroom. You can pick up some really fun cheap ones at the Dollar Tree.
Students take turns calling out a number (sum, difference, equation) while the others in the group try to be the first to Swat it!
Use craft sticks for low prep Math Centers! These sticks come in all sizes and colors, perfect for young learners and centers!
Write numbers on craft sticks for number recognition practice. For older students write equations on the sticks for students to solve. Add a few extra sticks with the word BAM! on them to add a bit of excitement. When a student pulls the BAM! stick they have to return all their sticks back to the container and start over. This prevents the game from ending before you are ready to switch centers.
Similar to the BAM! game above, write math equations on craft sticks (popsicle sticks) and students take turns pulling one and placing it into the cup with the correct answer. This is great for both addition and subtraction!
This game is great for number recognition, counting, and cardinality, as well! Write numbers on craft sticks, set up cups with dots or stickers to match the numbers. Students pull sticks and match the number to the cup with the correct number of dots.