Move It, Move It - Day 4 (Organizing Math Centers and Manipulatives by Anchored in Learning)

Hi guys. My name is Ashley and I am super excited to be a guest blogger this week. I am taking sometime off from my own blog, Anchored in Learning, to help Stephanie out during her move. Before I locked down a tenured track position in my current district I spent some time bouncing around as a long-term maternity leave substitute. This gave me insight into how others organize and manage their classrooms. In the primary grades there are many small math manipulatives that can easily be lost or broken. I have seen these manipulatives organized and disorganized many ways. This week I want to spend some time discussing helpful tips for organizing Guided Math centers and manipulatives.
One of the most helpful things you can do to keep things clean and organize is to involve your students. Let them take ownership and responsibility over their materials.  I know, I know, easier said than done. My students would be lost without picture labels. Label all of your bins with pictures and words so the students know how and where to put things away. A quick search on Teachers Pay Teachers will lead you to many free or cheap labels. Next organizational tip... Math Bags. Each of my student has a Math Bag(Zip Bag or Manila Envelope) to store their materials and a small check sheet to so they know what supplies should be in there. If they discover something is missing they can go over to the labeled supply bins and retrieve what they need. When it is time for independent practice or Guided Math Centers the students take their Math Bags out and can get straight to work without wasting instructional time passing out supplies.  In the beginning of the year I involve the students in the distribution of the math materials. I split the students up into teams and then have them sort the counting cubes by color and then into towers of 10.Each student selects a tower of 10 to add to their Math Bag and the rest get stored by color in Freezer Zip Bags for the future. The students also add dice, counting chips, a spinner, shape blocks, and of course a pencil to their Math Bags.
This is a great team building exercise because students attack the challenge differently. Sometimes each student picks a color or object to sort by , sometimes they sort altogether, and yes sometimes they argue and require some conflict resolution. Either way you get a glimpse at how the students work in groups. Now that all of your manipulative are organized for the year it's time to start introducing your Guided Math Centers.  If you are unfamiliar with Guided Math Centers or Math Workshop there are a million great resources out there that explain different ways to get started.  Like many others I use the acronym B.U.I.L.D. for my Math Centers. BUILD stands for... 
B.U.I.L.D Guided Math Signs
  • Buddy Games, 
  • Using Manipulatives, 
  • Independent Practice, 
  • Learning with Technology, 
  • Doing Math with the Teacher.  
Each center corresponds with a different cloth bin housing all the activities needed for that week. If the students are at the Buddy Game center they take the "B" bin  and can get started playing Buddy Games that correspond with the chapter we are focusing on. When it is time to switch centers, all the materials go back into the appropriate bin so that the next group will be ready to go. Click the link below to grab your own copy of my B.U.I.L.D. labels. I Love Freebies
I will be posting more information about Guided Math centers throughout the summer so please stop by my blog for more information. Thanks, Ashley

1 comment

  1. Your strategy is flexible and does not put unnecessary pressure on kids. They build their abilities based on how happy life is inside school. - Layce of


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