How to Create the Best Math Centers Using Plastic Eggs - Down River Resources | Your Elementary Math Guide

How to Create the Best Math Centers Using Plastic Eggs

Spring brings butterflies, chicks, blossoms, and... plastic eggs! People near and far hunt for these special spherical objects hidden in secret places. I tend to just go straight to the seasonal aisles of my favorite stores and find a wide variety of plastic eggs to choose from with a lot less hassle. In recent years, the stores are stocking an eclectic mix of eggs. These eggs include special shapes (animals and carrots), unique patterns (faith-based words, animal print, camouflage), extra-sparkly glitter, golden, and transparent eggs...these probably just list the ones stocked at eye-level! I stockpile a large assortment of these diverse eggs and pair them with rigorous math concepts to create the perfect math centers for kindergarten, first, and second grades. While my ideas are focused on these grade levels, many of them can be adapted for other grades too! This is my go-to list for simple math centers using plastic eggs.

Creating the Best Math Centers Using Plastic Eggs

Matching Math Centers

Plastic eggs are versatile! You can write on them, fill them, or do both!

I love writing on them....probably because I stockpile school supplies like my husband stockpiles freeze-dried rations (insert "yuck" face!)

Numeral + Tens Frames (Kindergarten)

Grab a regular Sharpie marker and some of those eggs and get marking! One of my favorite ways for students to use the two parts of a plastic egg is to match the numeral to the tens frame. This helps students read and represent whole numbers 0 to 20 with objects (TEKS K.2B.)

You can also match the numeral to a tally mark, subitizing dots, the number word, or stickers placed on one of the parts!

Composing Ten (Kindergarten, First, & Second Grades)

Another way to use the "matching" concept is composing numbers. When two numbers are added together, this is called composing numbers. Students simply match two one-digit addends which add up to 10.

Kindergarten and first grade students are asked to compose numbers to 10 (TEKS K.2I & 1.3C.) This concept of putting two numbers together to form one can also build a second grade student's automaticity with basic facts (TEKS 2.4A.)

Stacking Math Centers

This might be my favorite way to use plastic eggs! Since you are only using one of the parts, the eggs go a long way. You will have more pieces to create more centers...and what do I want to make? More centers! 

Counting by Tens (Kindergarten & First Grades)

I love how simple algebraic reasoning skills can be practiced by stacking the pieces into a tower. Your students will think the best part of this math center is trying to make the tower stay up. It is VERY common that the entire tower will fall, so students are practicing a lot more than just algebraic reasoning with this center.

I use this center for counting by 10s (TEKS K.5.) This same concept can be applied to skip counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s (TEKS 1.5B.) Skip counting is also a great skill to continue practicing in second grade as the students will apply this skill to contextual multiplication. 

Sequencing Math Centers

No matter which grade level you teach, you can use this concept of sequencing numbers with plastic eggs. The concept remains unchanged, but the numbers will be different. You can also tailor this center to your students' needs. You may have a student who is struggling or advanced, whichever the case, add eggs with the numbers that best suits students' needs.

Kindergarten students practice numbers 0 through 20 (TEKS K.A,) while first grade students use numbers up to 120 (TEKS 1.2F.) Second grade students practice ordering numbers up to 1,200 (TEKS 2.2D.)

Ordering Whole Numbers (Kindergarten, First, & Second Grades)

This egg carrier was purchased at Dollar General for $2. They can also be found at Dollar Tree for $1. Most of these egg carriers hold 12 or 24 eggs. You can make the exact amount of eggs needed or less. The carrier just acts as a place holder for the eggs.

The best thing of all if that there is a center section which can hold the pile of eggs (see the top part of the image.) Students can pick up one egg at a time and place it in a spot. As students pick up additional eggs, they may need to move eggs as the place value of each of the numbers is determined. The carrier works as an open number line.

Filled Math Centers

Using filled plastic eggs, you could teach any math skill! You can write numbers, draw shapes, or create word problems on a piece of paper, fold it up, and place it inside a plastic egg! That's as simple as ABC, friends. I use a variety of materials to fill the eggs just to keep my students interested in egg activities so they are not repetitive.

_ More and _ Less (Kindergarten, First, & Second Grades)

Yes, there is a reason I left a blank in the title for this section! You can tailor this center to meet the needs of any grade level or any child.

Kindergarten students are working on one more and one less (TEKS K.2F,) while first grade students are learning 10 more and 10 less than a given number up to 120 (TEKS 1.5.) Second graders expand on this idea by determining the number than is 10 or 100 more or less than a given number up to 1,200 (TEKS 2.7B.)

You can place a card within the math center to indicate if the students are working on the number than is _ more or _ less than the given number or they can generate both numbers.

I had students simply take a strip of notebook paper and number it, like we do for spelling tests, then students drew their eggs, opened them up, and recorded their answers individually. The example shown is for first grade (10 more and 10 less than a given number). The numbers on the eggs represent the problem number for recording purposes. The number on the sticky note is the number that students use to generate their answers.

Counting (Kindergarten)

We all need another excuse to buy those irresistibly cute Target erasers, right?! Well, here's another one!

Fill the eggs with a certain number of erasers. Students will open one egg at a time and count to determine the quantity held in the eggs. I numbered the eggs so that the students can record their answers.

Again, I used a strip of notebook paper and had students number it, like we do for spelling tests. As they select eggs out of the basket or container, they record the answer on the corresponding line.

Kindergarten students are learning to count forward to 20 (TEKS K.2A,) and counting a set of objects up to at least 20 (TEKS K.2C.) This activity also build students' one-to-one number correspondence. 

Graphing (Kindergarten, First, and Second Grades)

This same concept of filling the eggs or placing objects within them can be applied to data collection, each egg could contain a specific object (erasers, jelly beans, etc.) and students record the data on a bar graph or picture graph. Students are learning how to collect and organize data (TEKS K.8ABC, 1.8ABC, 2.10CD.)

Coin Collections (First and Second Grades)

Fill plastic eggs with coins. I try to use real coins when I am able to as they are more life-like. Plus, there are so many varieties of coins, I have yet to find a math manipulative that captures their new look. Each egg is filled with a different combination of coins.

First graders are learning how to count by 1s to add up the value of pennies and skip count by 5s and 10s to add up the value of nickels and dimes (TEKS 1.4ABC). Second grade students are determining the value of a collection of coins up to one dollar (TEKS 2.5AB.)

I used a strip of notebook paper and had students number it, like we do for spelling tests. As they select eggs out of the basket or container, they record the answer on the corresponding line. In the example in the photograph, I had the second graders write the value of the collection of coins using the cent symbol and the dollar sign and decimal point to specifically meet the rigor within the second grade standard (TEKS 2.5B.) First graders would write the value of the collection of coins using the cent symbol.

Whew! That was a plethora of ways that you are create the BEST math centers using plastic eggs. I love that each of these math centers are rigorous.

Did you notice each idea I used was standards-based and met the specificity described? Students are practicing the power words in education: determining, generating, representing, composing! These are the higher-order thinking skills we want them to use and practice, practice, practice. Why not use plastic eggs to accomplish this? 

In addition, these dynamic math centers are be differentiated based on your students' needs. If your students has not mastered three-digit numbers, create some eggs with two-digits. If your students have surpassed the grade level goal, make them four-digit numbers! I love using plastic eggs in math centers as they are rigorous and meet the needs of diverse learners in my classroom.

I hope this inspires you to turn those leftover plastic eggs into some engaging math centers for diverse learners!

What is your favorite way to use plastic eggs for math centers?

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