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4 Easy Ways to Differentiate Your Math Centers In Early Elementary Math

Updated: Apr 2

Imagine you have a game your students love, but they get bored of the same thing, or they think “This is so easy!” Here are 4 quick and easy ways to differentiate your math centers!

1. Use Number Tracks with Visual Support

A lot of times, students have trouble putting numerals together with a value so using number tracks with dice images or 10 frame images can be an easy way to differentiate any Math Center that you're using with dice or 10 frames.

Your students would be able to see how many there are in the dice or 10 frame and match the numeral to the value so they can start to write those numbers and connect them even if they're not yet writing numbers they can match the patterns the dice patterns or the 10 frame patterns and start to learn them.

2. Use More Dice!

Next easy differentiation tip, use more dice.  it can be as simple as instead of using one die use two dice and then your students are counting to 12 instead of just two six and getting some simple addition practice with those two dice.

If you want to go beyond that, you can look into getting 10-frame dice, 5-frame dice, or 20-frame dice, and if you don't want to purchase those you can simply put 5 10 20 frames in a dice Blackline master and then use those.

A favorite of students is using dice that were traditionally for Dungeons and Dragons. D&D dice go higher than traditional dice with numerals they have dice that just have the tens on them like 10 20 30 they have ones that go up to eight they have one that goes up to 12 have some that go up to 20 they are very versatile inexpensive and something that my students loved is anything colorful so those Dungeons and Dragons dice are very colorful they have fun patterns in and sparkly those are always a hit with students.

You may be a little hesitant to use dice with that many faces on it like 20-sided dice but I never had any students have trouble with those dice they understood that the number that they could see is the one that they rolled even if there were lots of sides so don't let that hold you back your students will be able to handle it.

3. Spinners

Very similar to different dice Spinners are also an easy versatile way to differentiate your stations.  you can put any number range onto a spinner and use that.  It can be simple only using two numbers or three numbers you can go up to high numbers you can put 10 frames on them base 10 blocks domino faces anything really in a number age that is appropriate for your students.

4. 5, 10, 20 Frames

Speaking of things you can put on spinners five frames 10 frames 20 frames another way to differentiate your math centers is if you're just working with numbers to five five frames only then move to 10 move to 20 and because it's so simple the possibilities are endless with using 10 frames you can read more about activities for 10 frames in this 10 plus 10 frame activity blog post.

Use visual support with number tracks, use more dice, spinners, 5 frames, and 10 frames!

Bonus: Differentiated Games

Pick Build and Cover 10 Frames or Rekenreks

In Pick, Build, and Cover your students pick a numeral or 20-frame card, create that number on their 5, 10, or 20 Frame, and cover the number they made on their mat.

Spin and Build

Spin and Build is similar, instead of picking, you spin a number and create the matching number on your mat. This game has an optional recording sheet so students can sneak in some number writing practice in this game!

Pattern Block Roll, Count, Cover

To play Pattern Block Roll, Count, and Cover roll one die or two depending on the mat, and students have to find the numeral that goes with the value they rolled and cover it with a pattern block outline that matches.

Roll and Write or Spin and Write with 10 Frames

For both versions of this center, students will either roll or spin a 5, 10, or 20 frame and write the corresponding number. This center is great for subitizing, and number writing practice! Even though students may recognize numbers up to 20, writing them can be more challenging. Both of these centers are already differentiated to fit the needs of your students or you can bring it back when students move from 5 to 10 to 20 frames!

Dice Game Sampler Freebie

Want a sneak peek at some of these games? Get the Dice Game Sampler Freebie!