Guided Math using MASTER Math Curriculum

MASTER math - a guided math curriculum

Over the past 10 years, I have been using guided math instruction in my classroom. I have spent countless hours trying to gather materials from everywhere to make this approach work. This year I decided to put everything I wanted in one place and write my own first-grade math curriculum. Introducing…Master Math.

first grade guided math curriculum

What is Master Math?

Master Math is an acronym that I created to represent the way I teach guided math to my first graders. In the past, I had struggled to teach math in a whole group setting. I decided I needed to make a change. I thought about all of the components I wanted in a math program and that is how this was born. Each letter represents a different part of our math learning.

What does each letter stand for in Master Math?

M: Manipulatives
A: Apply Skills
S: Small Group
T: Technology
E: Enrichment
R: Review

How does guided math look in Master Math?

First, we gather together for a 5-10 minute whole group lesson. I use the SMART board for these lessons and I have them laid out and ready to go (they come in a pdf version too). I go through the slides with the class. They contain discussion questions to introduce the topic we will be working on. At the end of the slides, there are 6 different activities they will do for each rotation. I provide just a visual of the activity. I use the visual to explain what they will be doing at each rotation.

Read all about my first grade guided math curriculum called Master Math. I explain my guided math curriculum and give lots of helpful tips!!
After the whole group lesson, the students go to their first rotation. There are 5 total rotations. The 6th rotation is an open rotation for any time during math. I use a SMART notebook slide to designate where my students start. Then, I switch the slide approximately every 8 minutes for the next rotation.
Read all about my first grade guided math curriculum called Master Math. I explain my guided math curriculum and give lots of helpful tips!!
At each station, you will find two tubs. I use yellow and orange tubs. The orange tub contains the activity they will be completing. The yellow tub is the turn-in tray for that activity. This keeps things nice and tidy for each rotation.
Read all about my first grade guided math curriculum called Master Math. I explain my guided math curriculum and give lots of helpful tips!!

Let’s take a look at each part of Master Math!


Manipulatives are a must in a math program. In this rotation, we work on skills through movement. It can be moving math objects, building puzzles, or moving our body through a scoot activity. It is simply math with some sort of movement.
first grade math manipulatives

Apply Skills

1st grade math games for the classroom
In apply skills, my students work on applying what they are learning by playing a game. Math games are a great way to learn math and have a little fun too. This station is a favorite. It really helps my students work on being kind, playing fair, and working together. Take a peek!

Small Group

math sheets for 1st grade
The small group is my station. This is where I sit and work with a group of 4-5 students at a time. It is a paper-pencil station where they work on the skills we are learning. This is where I can see first-hand if my students are understanding the concept. Not just one student, but my eyes are on ALL of my students daily. It is the best feedback I can get to guide my instruction. To say this is my favorite station is an understatement. I love the small-group interaction, the formative assessment, and watching them grow.


online math games grade 1 by First Grade Roars
My students love technology. It is all around us so why not embrace it. It is also another avenue to reach your learners. In my classroom, we have Chrome books. I only need 5 at a time, although I do have more. During this time, my students work on either Google Slide activities or digital task cards call Boom Decks. They do prefer Boom Decks because they get instant feedback from them. Who doesn’t LOVE instant feedback? I also prefer Boom Decks because I also get a report on their progress. In my units, I offer both means of technology.


This rotation is an open rotation. Students are never sent to this rotation, but they can go when they finish any activity if they choose. I have also used the activities from enrichment during small group with my higher learners. Some years I have enough students to make an enrichment group. When they come to me, if they already know the small group material, we just do the enrichment. It varies from year to year.


math pages for 1st grade
The review rotation is a paper-pencil pencil center where students work on previously learned material. This rotation is SOOOO important. It keeps students fresh with learned material and it also helps those students who didn’t quite get it the first time. It’s like a second chance at mastery.

Here are Some Helpful Tips

1. I always color-code my worksheets when printing.

*small group is white*review is green

*enrichment is yellow

*apply skills are pink

* manipulatives blue

2. I always stick to my 8 minutes with a 2-minute transition time. If they don’t finish, it is ok. We do our best and move on.

3. At the last rotation, the students bring all materials in the two tubs over to an assigned area. Then, I go through and gather papers and replace the tubs for the next day’s activities.

4. I copy an entire chapter and have it all prepped by the day before beginning a unit.

5. I store all of my lesson plans in a binder.

6. I store all of my games and activities in a tub.

math lesson plan binders
organizing math manipulatives
Did I mention that every math unit ends with an assessment and a cumulative project/craft? Since the assessment doesn’t take as long as Master Math, we add a little fun in at the end. Each unit is theme based so the project or craft is based on the theme. Here is a peek at a few.
math crafts
Would you like to see the units covered in Master Math? Here are the different units I created using the Common Core State Standards for First Grade

l could never teach math in a whole group setting again. Not only do I love everything about Master Math, but my students do as well. They are upset on shortened days when we can’t fit it in. Guided Math has changed the way I teach math instruction for the better!

Read all about my first grade guided math curriculum called Master Math. I explain my guided math curriculum and give lots of helpful tips!!

Check out my entire First Grade Master Math Curriculum Here!

Take a peek at what is included over on my YouTube Channel here!

Read more blog posts about Guided Math lessons here:



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I’m Megan, a first grade teacher and a mother to 7 amazing children. I love to create and collaborate with teachers. When I’m not teaching, I love spending time with my family, baking and playing tennis.

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