Bowling in math is one of my favorite centers to use in my math workshop and the students love it too! Not only is it engaging, but it’s also one of those math centers that can easily be used for nearly any mathematical concept.
When creating the bowling math centers, you need to first collect toilet paper rolls. Then pour a little white paint on to a paper plate, roll the toilet paper roll in it and set it to dry. After it is dry, I paint a cute little red line on it much like real bowling pins. Of course, you can choose to not do any of this if you wish. Now – the most important part… after it is dry, take clear packaging tape (my cheap laminate!) and place strips around the roll. This makes it easy to write on it with a dry erase and to clean it off later. Just as important, it also helps it maintain its durability.
Then for whatever math concept you are using, just write it on the “laminated” pin. For instance, when we study fractions, I write several different fractions- one per pin- on them. Then students roll their ball (balled up paper works or even ping pong balls) into the pins. They can then add all the fraction pins that are down or if working on equivalent fractions, they can name an equivalent fraction for each pin down. I have even not written anything on them and had students tell me what fraction of the pins are down. This applies to any number and operations; Adding numbers, multiplying numbers, so on.
If you are working on geometry concepts, draw different shapes on the pins. Then have students roll the ball and tell you what the characteristics are of the pins down. You could write vocabulary words on the pins and students tell what the meaning of the words that fell down are.
I have even taped task cards, such as my time task cards, around the pin and had students tell the time on the pins down. For elapsed time, you could have students write all the times down in order and find the elapsed time between each.
The ideas are pretty limitless! The center is engaging, reusable, and inexpensive to make!