Ultimate List for Math and Literacy Center Materials

You’ve heard about the benefits of math and literacy centers in your classroom. Maybe you already have a plan to start using math and literacy centers in the classroom. You might have your procedures in place, a framework in mind, and ideas for various activities. What’s next? Getting the pieces to complete the puzzle by gathering math and literacy center materials that will make your life so much easier!

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Basic Math and Literacy Center Materials

Working in math and literacy centers should be an organized dance that your students know well. Therefore, you need to provide all the supplies for all of your centers. I repeat, no student supplies should be used in centers. If they are, you are opening up the door to chaos. Therefore, when you start to put your math and literacy centers together, there are a few basic supplies that you’re going to need to make your centers run nice and smooth.

The Write Supplies

Whatever activity your students are doing in their centers they are going to need something to write with. Therefore, you should always have pencils, crayons, colored pencils, and markers (both regular and dry erase). By having writing utensils at every center, you are ensuring your students have the most basic tool they need. Keep in mind if you have pencils at each station, you want them to be sharp or you might want to include a pencil sharpener just to keep students where they need to be. When you can avoid wandering and distractions that is always a plus!  

Cut, Paste, and Highlight

There will be times when you have your students doing something a bit more specialized. Because you always want every center to be prepared, you want to make sure you have scissors at every station to cut out different word tiles, pictures, sections of text, and more. For example, if you ask students to cut apart a reading passage and glue it in the correct order, you’ll need to ensure there are enough scissors for each person in a group as well as enough glue sticks. Then, if you have the students highlight words that helped them figure out which paragraph came first, second, and so on, you’ll also need some highlighters. While these are great for a passage pasting activity, they will also be used in several other center activities.

Literary Center Matrials for Optimal Centers

While both center types are going to require some of the same basic math and literacy center materials, it’s important to distinguish specific center needs.

Review and Enriching Sight Words

Sight words are a fundamental part of literacy in the classroom. One center you might have is a sight word flashcard center. In this center, students can quiz themselves and each other. To take sight words further, you could challenge your students to write sentences using sight words. Your learning groups could work together to create a story about a sight word they have learned. You can even make this a digital center and have students record themselves saying the words or telling their story for you to listen to later.

Spell It Out with Literacy Center Supplies

When you are working with students on spelling, you want them to get all kinds of practice. For your literacy centers, you might want to make sure you have letter tiles available so students can practice spelling out words. If you have students working in digital centers, they might spell out the word, take a picture using their device, and finally label the picture the word they just spelled. You can also do this acidity with a cookie sheet and magnetic letters. In addition to spelling out words, you might have your students create certain types of sentences. This can be achieved by adding word tiles to your literacy center supplies list!  


Supplies Needed for Magical Math Centers

While math centers don’t always tell a story, there can be some fun manipulatives that really set them apart from literacy centers.

Creating Real World Scenarios in Math Centers

When you are creating math centers, you want to have several different manipulatives available to students. For example, if you are working on a money unit, you will want to have coins available for them to practice with. This real world skill can be practiced by having learning partners “buy” groceries for a recipe. The person who is the cashier has to figure the total and determine how much change is needed. The consumer has to make sure all the products add up to the right amount and that he/she gives the cashier the right amount of money.

Manipulatives for Math Centers

When you are working on place value, counting, and really anything related to math, there are several math manipulatives you can use. One thing you can use are Base Ten blocks that allow small pieces to be put together. This can help students figure out a square foot, multiplication, and more! You can also use round counters to help students see two different numbers that need to be added together, subtracted, or multiplied. Plus, they can also serve as bingo pieces!

Storing Supplies for Math and Literacy Centers

Once you have all the supplies, you’re going to need a place to put them. I personally love using Iris Boxes because they are clear, easy to label, and not difficult to store at all. By using Iris Boxes, you are saving space and you’re giving your students a specific location where all their supplies go. You can also use pencil pouches to store your pieces. A zippered pencil pouch is easy to store and can be seen through as well.


To label your boxes or pencil pouch, you should use a small supply card that you can laminate. Once laminated, you can write everything that needs to be in each container on the supply card using a sharpie. When you need to change the material list, simply color over the sharpie and erase or use a magic eraser to get the writing off.

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Math and literacy centers are so much fun to use in your classroom. Plus, they are a great review and enrichment activity. Once you have your centers designed, make sure you get all the supplies for your math and literacy centers together and organize them in a way that is easy for you and your students.


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