• Tandi Churchill

Halloween Math Centers: Holding Student Interest During October


I love creating math resources that help students stay engaged during distracting holiday seasons. Although Halloween isn't an official U.S. holiday, it is the fastest growing (and grossing) holiday next to Christmas. With all the hustle and bustle of Halloween party planning, shopping, costume making, and decorating going on at home around this time of year, keeping kids on task in the classroom becomes more and more of a challenge.

Instead of fighting it, I am a firm believer in just going with it. Pushing against the grain never works in my classroom. When my students are restless, for example, instead of expending endless energy to keep them on task, we stop what we are doing, get up and get moving with a high-energy brain break. When we get back to work, the students are re-focused and much more productive. It's something that took me a while to learn as an educator but is one of the most helpful things in my teaching toolbox.

So, when Halloween rolls around, instead of trying to take the students minds off of it, I draw attention to it. I harness and focus their excitement about it into my teaching. The pictures on my starter problems change from circles and stars to spiders and pumpkins, I make up real-world problems about trick-or-treating, and bobbing for apples, and I introduce Halloween-themed worksheets and centers to use as incentives for students who finish their work early or to use during guided math sessions.

My new Halloween Math Centers focus on addition and subtraction fluency within 20. Fact fluency is such an important building block of mathematical success in the early grades and one that I like to hit hard the first few months of school. I think of fact fluency as being akin to reading fluency. Both are achieved through significant practice. The first two math centers I introduce are spinner centers that focus on addition within 10.

Spinner activities are very engaging for students because they enjoy the kinesthetic aspect of spinning the paperclip as well as the anticipation of waiting to see on which number the paperclip will land. The variability of spinner activities keeps students interested and motivated. The addition to 10 Monster Spinner Activity and subtraction to 10 Pumpkins Spinners Activity will help students master their facts to 10 with automaticity.

Ten frames are powerful visual representations of part-part-whole relationships. They help students develop mental math fluency as well as improve their subitizing skills. The Batty Fact Family Ten Frames invite students to identify the part-part-whole relationships of each ten-frame, which empowers them to create 2 related addition and subtraction facts.

The remaining 7 centers in the bundle focus on addition and subtraction fluency within 20 in a variety of different formats to keep up student interest. The Pumpkin Subtraction Center invites students to draw a pumpkin card and solve the subtraction sentence on the provided recording sheet. Recording sheets are not always possible for every type of center but they are a great way to hold students accountable for their work. Each recording sheet comes with a corresponding answer key for teacher convenience.

The Costume Party Mats Center has students matching addition facts to 20 with their correct sums. These mat centers are fun because students can play individually or with a partner or small group. Each mat has a fun clip art kid dressed in Halloween costume created by Educlips, one of my favorite clip artists on Teachers Pay Teachers!

I looove number bonds! Number bonds create a visual picture of the relationship between the whole and the two parts. For this center, students are asked to add the two parts together to determine the whole. They place the correct whole number card on the question mark and record their answers on the recording sheet. To differentiate, students can be given linking cubes to create the two parts, then count them up to find the whole. This can give them the concrete support they need to have success with this center.

Dice centers are very engaging for young mathematicians because they get to manipulate the dice and anticipate the outcome of each roll. The Spooky Roll and Cover Center invites a pair of students to take turns rolling the dice, adding up the dots, and covering that total on the roll and cover sheet. If the number is already covered, play moves to the next student. I have provided paper dice in this center but regular dice can be used as well. Players will need some kind of counters to cover their numbers, preferably in 2 different colors.

Another dice center in this bundle is the Roll and Subtract Center. Students roll the dice then create and solve a subtraction sentence on the recording sheet using the two numbers. They will need to understand that the larger number is the whole number, the smaller number is one part, and they are subtracting to find the missing part. An answer key is not provided for this center as answers vary based on the roll of the dice.

Concentration games are great math centers because multiple players can participate at once and there is a high level of excitement. For the Arachnid Matching Center, students must match the addition or subtraction sentence card to its sum or difference. This center is best played after significant math fact practice as a lot of brain power needs to be allocated to remember the location of the cards and could be frustrating for those who are still learning their math facts.

Thanks for checking out this post! If you're interested in these Halloween Math Centers, you can purchase them in one convenient bundle by following this link to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.


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