How to WORKOUT in math

This has become the year of math for me. When I decided to do a major math makeover at the beginning of year, I knew my centers needed some attention! In the past, I had 5 math centers that I was constantly trying to update. That meant a lot of prep for me and a lot of overcrowding for my little learners at the centers. 

When giving my lessons an overhaul, I began structuring all of them like a sporting event. Every day we have a warm-up, a brain stretch, a pep talk, huddle up partner time, practice time, and a cool down. (You can learn more about my lessons here.) I realized we also needed some time to practice what we learned, build endurance, and become more flexible in our thinking. This is how my WORKOUT centers came to be! 

I pitched the idea to my little learners in September, and we have been loving math centers since. Here's what I emphasized: A daily WORKOUT is important! It might take a little time and it could be challenging, but it makes you stronger. You can WORKOUT with a friend, or you can WORKOUT alone. You pick the WORKOUT that seems right for you! 

I made this poster to help my little learners remember each center as they were introduced. There are also labels for each of my center bins that you can grab here. I rolled out 1 or 2 each day.

Here's what you can find at our WORKOUT centers:

Working with numbers is a place where my little learners do number puzzles and games. This is a great place to use games you have stored in your closet and can never find time to play! I rotate the activities throughout the year to practice number recognition, addition, subtraction, geometry, time, money, etc. 

On my own is a written activity that students complete independently. They may work on this at their desks or with clipboards. They just grab their paper and any manipulatives needed for the job. Before the end of each unit, I require all my little learners to complete this job. I use it as an assessment. 

Read about math is a center for, you guessed it, reading about math. I am in the process of creating math book templates so they can write their own math stories here too! It's so simple to set up, and I just love watching my little learners relaxing and reading during math!

Keep it up is the place where I put all of the games we have played together. These are usually partner games so little learners can choose a game and play together. It's an easy way to review learned skills and build fluency. We have exciting new centers and some old favorites here too!

Here are some of our favorite activities right now from Keep it Up! Just click on the pictures to check them out in my store.

On your mark is a center for building fluency. Little learners complete "math sprinting" activities to see how quickly and accurately they can solve problems. We are currently loving our hundred pocket chart race to fill in all of the numbers to 100. And we also can't get enough of Ninja Math Master from Amy N. I just laminated a set of her cards with matching answer keys. My little learners set timers for one minute to see how many problems they can solve, and then their partners check their work. 

Using manipulatives is always a classroom favorite! This is where students use linking cubes, tangrams, coins, clocks, measurement tools, counting bears and frogs, or other goodies! We work on number recognition, basic operations, patterns, geometry, time, and money throughout the year. I keep each set of manipulatives inside a pencil box and each set of task cards on a binder ring. When students come they grab one pencil box and one set of cards and take them to their desk.

Little learners love the addition architect center, and it's only $1 in my store. It's a super activity for decomposing 10. Just click on the picture to find it.

And then there was one....the Teacher table. I use this center to reteach and review. I can also use it for quick assessments or to teach an enrichment activity to a small group. There are also days when there is nothing better than sitting down and playing a game with your little learners!

When I met with parents at conferences recently, almost all of them told me how much their children love math! I know our math WORKOUT has made them more confident in the mathematical skills and made them realize how fun math can be! 


  1. Awesome read! I love the set up of your math WORKOUT centers! I am in the process of revamping my math block too, and can't wait to try this!

    One Sharp Bunch

  2. Thanks for the great feedback Ashley! This has been the easiest way I have ever found to do centers. We have our math block at the very end of the day, but the WORKOUT centers have kept all my little ones engaged and have eliminated any behavior problems. Best wishes with your math updates! :)


  3. Hi Emily! I love your workout math and am thinking of using it in my second grade classroom but I have some questions! Do the kids choose which centers to participate in or do you assign them? How do you keep track of which centers the kids do? And how do you decide who comes to the teacher table?
    Thank you in advance for answering my questions! :)

    1. Hi Samantha! Thanks for reading my post. I do let my kids choose which center to do with one exception. They must complete the "On My Own" center before the end of our unit so I can assess their understanding of our newest skills. I have found that my little learners are most engaged when they choose which center to do. I was actually surprised to find out that they choose different centers all the time :) I sometimes pull my kids who are struggling to the teacher table to help finish their practice page. I use a lot of manipulatives and work mats here. Sometimes I pull my highest kids to teach them an extension activity or game too. I hope the math WORKOUT works for your class! Thanks again!


  4. very cool ideas! I can't wait to try this! thanks so much!

  5. very cool ideas! I can't wait to try this! thanks so much!

  6. Do they do more than 1 a day? or a couple each day? How often do you change the activities. I love this idea!Thanks!


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