Organizing Math Manipulatives

One of my many goals this winter break was to get my math manipulatives organized. I want to use the differentiation cards through Math Expressions for early finisher work, but each lesson has 3 different cards and the materials piece was a nightmare to try to have ready. I had all the 'stuff' (well, almost everything) I just didn't have them accessible for my students.

In comes Mama Lynch with a request: A Christmas Idea for my classroom; she wants to give my sister and me a little somethin' somethin' to our classrooms each year (how sweet is she?!?) First, I asked for those super cool pencil sharpeners I've been seeing on Pinterest (I got 2 from her- they are AH-MA-ZING!) Then I remembered my manipulative dilemma. I had a vision of using those clear, smaller drawers, but they can actually add up pretty quickly. I asked her for a couple of them to at least get me started. As I unwrap my presents, one of them was a set of clear drawers with a post it note saying that she didn't want to wrap them all. She got me 5!! That means enough for 15 different maniuplatives and supplies (or even more, since I am doubling up on some of them).  It might be a bit pathetic with how excited I get over organizing things, especially for my classroom. Anywho, let me reveal to you my new math resource station!
 I decided to use one of the sets of drawers for some word work things, so I had to rework my vision a bit, but I am so excited to lead the kiddos in a guided discovery when we get back from break! I still have the decks of cards in a separate tub, as well as the dice.
I made labels with the name of the manipulative and a picture to help keep it organized. How we take out resources and use them will be modeled next week in hopes that it stays this neat. I have a separate smaller drawer set for some of our math center game cubes and dice. Normal dice are kept in my little pail, and extra dry erase markers will be stored over here also for the use of the Smart Pals.

Rulers, Fraction Tools, Number Cards
Various Paper: Dot, 10x10 Grid, Index
Cards, Inch and Centimeter Paper.
This is also where I will keep the
activity cards they can work on.
Pattern Blocks, Connecting Cubes,
Counters, and Spinners
Clocks, Place Value Markers (no label yet)
Play Money, 3D shapes
I also have the challenge problem located on top of the drawers. This will be an option for students to try to complete. Since we are already in Unit 7, I didn't go back and look at what materials they would need for the cards. However, I am sure that most of them are here. I'll add next year if need be. With that said, I will have everything they need for every card, for ever lesson, for the rest of the year.
Smart Pals
To try to save some paper, we'll be using the Smart Pals (posted here). Students can slip in the paper they need (dot paper, grid paper, etc.) and use dry erase markers. That way, I don't have to worry about making a ton of copies and running out. I only have 19 Smart Pals though, so some sharing might need to take place if they all need it, but I don't see that happening very often.  I'll also keep up our math center games as occasional options; but I do love the idea that they will be extending their understanding on the topics we are learning that day. The math centers will be great for review every once and awhile on topics like place value and multi-digit subtraction. 
File folders with Duct Tape and magnets to house some of our math centers!
I'll leave you with one other project accomplished: Leveling and labeling the 200+ new books to our library! I got some PTO money and through Scholastic, I was able to use my own account to get bonus points. That means double the books and I get to keep some of them should I not stay at my school forever. :) It's a win-win! I gave my kiddos a glimpse on the last day of school and boy, were they excited! Until next time!


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