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One of the ways I have streamlined my daily Math Routines is by using Math Tool Kits.
What are Math Tool Kits?
Math Tool Kits are something that I developed to help my class spend less time passing out materials that we need.
How I Put Them Together
Think about what your students are currently using daily in math, these are things that you are passing out to them daily. At the time I made these, it was taking me 5-7 minutes to pass these materials out; students argue over sizes, colors, you name it, or one student wouldn’t get all their supplies. It always seemed to take much longer.
One of the ways I streamlined this was process that I purchased enough personal whiteboards for each student in the class to have their own whiteboard and each student has their own marker. I label them as well. The whiteboards have a label on the back and I just use regular Avery Mailing Labels and a Sharpie. For the white board marker, I label these as well, but I cut the label in half and wrap it around the marker rather than laying it from top to bottom. So each student now has their own whiteboard and marker.
We use these whiteboards and markers all throughout the day, so they were essential for us to have them accessible at all times.
How to keep track of markers?
A lot of teachers have expressed a frustration with how quickly we go through dry erase markers. It is really frustrating because they are expensive. The method I came up with has worked very well in my class and it puts just enough fear in them to teach them a bit of responsibility.
My solution was this: each student starts with one marker and it has their name on it. I have a list at my desk that I can easily access, if a student needs a new marker because they lost theirs (it dried out or they pushed the tip in) then at that moment I tell them they will need to use a pencil and a scratch piece of paper. I jot their name on a sticky at my desk. Then at the end of the day or at my convenience, I will get out new markers for those on my list, put new name labels on them and put an X by their name. The students know that after 5 Xs they will need to buy the class a new set of markers. This list starts over after Christmas Break.
I have only had one student ever lose 5 markers before Christmas time. I know this student’s family was not going to be in no able to purchase a set of new markers (They didn’t even donate at the beginning of the year), but this little girl kept losing and losing her markers, so I just pretty much put her on permanent scratch paper and pencil. She just had such a hard time keeping track of supplies (or she was taking them home).
Each year this works really well. The students are very protective of their markers and are very responsible with them.
What else goes in the kits?
The next standard item I put in there are the Base 10 blocks (10s and 1s as we call them). They are the 10 sticks and and mini ones cubes. Depending on the surplus of your supplies this will differ per class. I take a Ziplock sandwich bag and label their name again and I give each student 10, ten sticks and 10, ones. This was enough supplies for 90 % of our lessons, but there was times that they would need more once we reached a higher level in our math. This only happened occasionally, and for those times I would pair them up with their partner and they would share supplies. This sandwich bag would go inside the gallon sized bag. At the end of the lesson when using those supplies, I express the importance of putting their supplies back inside the baggy and inside the big bag. This does take some training.
The next item is the Unifix Cubes or snap cubes. I give each student a total of 20 cubes (10 of one color and 10 of another). This solved the issue of not being able to pick their own colors and it was a “get what you get and don’t throw a fit”. I did allow (on the day of passing these out) that they could do a switch with another student. We set the timer for 2 minutes and they could switch around. The students were given 20 so that they could easily do counting in 5 groups and by 10s. They could also use these for counting on.
Also an eraser
This is an eraser for their white boards. One of my daughters had torn a hole in her black leggings. I cut these leggings apart and made about 30 erasers. Plenty extra for those who lost one. Each student had a black square eraser. I like using black because it doesn’t show the ink on them. They can also be washed in the washing machine by putting them in one of those mesh laundry bags. On a Friday before break, I would gather them up and bring them home to wash. Then re-distribute when we would return. I chose not to put names on them, but a silver Sharpie would work. A lot of teachers use re-usable make up pads as well. These are added to the math kits big gallon bags.
More Math Kit Items Ideas
- Flash Cards (They made them during a math project). We store them in a Ziplock bag with their name on it.
- 100 Chart (They made it during a math project) You can make one that is smaller. I recommend laminating it.
- Number Bond Template or one with a few on it (Laminated or in a sheet protector)
- Place Value Template (Laminated or in a sheet protector)
- Mini Plastic Clock – In our class we learn about time. During those lessons these are ready to go.
- Partner Share Clocks. – This is a FREE Product on TPT. We use these daily. There are many times in a week or day where I need the students to get into partners, or to share information or teach a partner a strategy. These Partner Share Clocks are a life saver. I can say, “Partner up with your 9 O’Clock partner, and they scurry to meet with that partner and do the game or activity with them. This saves so much time of students not having partners, wanting to be a group of 3, leaving someone out, being with a good match of a partner. You name it!
I have my clocks set up to where their 12:00 partner is their Best Friend, 3:00 is their on level partner (someone who reads at the same level), their 6:00 is a high/low partner combo and their 9:00 partner was just randomly chosen.
Where the students keep their math kits?
My students have boxes as we call them. They are like a little cubby that sits at their desk. They move seats very often so it makes it easy to grab their box and move to a different seat. In the box is where they keep their math tool kits.
These math kits have been a huge time saver for me. It is so nice to have them right at their finger tips. I really did not have an issue with the students playing with them. I gave them many opportunities to play with them, so it really wasn’t a forbidden toy that they couldn’t wait to touch. Manipulatives can be a struggle for a class who rarely sees them. They get so excited that they get lost in building and playing and they lose their purpose.
Another advantage are for our small groups. It makes it quick and easy to ask students to bring with them their 10’s and 1’s for the math center. We save so much time.
What are other items that you would put in your math kits?