As teachers, we all know how important it is to be organized in the classroom. It just helps the days run more smoothly. However, we weren’t all born with the organization gene (if there is one). With this in mind, I would like to share a few ways to keep your math manipulatives organized and ready for students to grab quickly and quietly throughout the day.
I started creating game boxes a few years back when I had some extra school boxes that needed a purpose. Because I use games daily to reinforce grade level content and skills and to provide extra intervention or challenge, I decided to fill them with common game materials that students typically need to play games. (See the picture above.) Once filled, I place the boxes in a cabinet that is accessible to students. When we get ready to play games, either as a class or in small groups, students grab a game box and game board. Material pick-up literally takes less than one minute. When game time has concluded, students replace the materials in the box and then return the box to storage.
Another strategy that I use to keep my classroom running smoothly is to package my game markers. My class plays lots of quick games like Cover Up!, Connect, and Bingo to review skills. It can be time-consuming and tedious to hand-out markers to students before game time begins; so I started organizing my centimeter cubes and transparent chips into small containers that I found at Staples. (See the picture above.) Once filled, I organize the containers by color into a large basket. Whenever it’s time to use them, I pull-out the basket and student pairs grab one container of cubes and one container of chips. Having these prepared in advance makes prep time super quick and easy. My students can take-out materials, play a game, and return materials in 10 minutes. No kidding! When game time has concluded, students replace the materials in the containers and then return them to the storage basket. By the way, when I have that random group of three, one student grabs a pre-packaged bag of beans to use as markers. Click the game links above for freebies!
The last organization tip that I have is my math toolbox. I got the idea after seeing all of
those cute toolboxes that teachers were creating with the toolboxes that you buy from the hardware store. (See the picture above.) This toolbox is filled with all of the materials that I need when I am working with a small group. It’s the perfect size for my small group learning table in the classroom. The toolbox can also be used as a go-to place for students to find the math tools they need to make sense of the work they’re doing in the classroom or as a stand-alone math station toolbox with materials needed to play games or complete task cards and/ or menu work.
I’ve included a free download of the labels here. Just place a text box over each oval and type your math tool name into the space. If you’re trying to match the font, I used Hello Fonts Poppin’ Tags.
I’ve created the labels to fit the toolbox shown here; however, you can print them and use them to label other math tools in your classroom as well. For example, you can slip them on the inside of a plastic container and attach the label with double-sided tape. Enjoy!