Monday, January 28, 2013

Math Tools & Storage ~ Part 1

One of my goals for the new year was to work on balancing my blogging and getting back to writing about teaching-related things.  I've kind of been at a loss on what to post about, though.  

To draw inspiration, I've been looking around my classroom at some of the things that I think work and make things run a little smoother on a daily basis.  

One of those things took a few years to develop, but it totally works for my classroom...  
My math storage drawers!

I changed my manipulative organization when we switched to Everyday Math a few years ago.  I knew that since the curriculum spirals I needed to have these tools on hand for the kids all the time.

You can find these drawers at places like Wal-Mart and Target, most frequently during the back to school / dorm shopping season.  I found these at Big Lots for less than $20.  I designated 1 drawer for each table group.  This has 5 drawers and I typically only have 4 groups, so we usually put the extra supplies in the "Group 5" drawer.  (My aunt is a first grade teacher and she bought 4 of these drawer sets and uses them for all of her phonics and reading skill activities!)

Within the drawer we keep math tools that the kids need access to on a daily basis.  It's not all of the manipulatives, but it's enough to get them through most of their daily work.  Inside each drawer you'll find calculators, clocks, unifix cubes, rulers, tape measures, money, Everyday Math cards, and pattern blocks.  (Some items I just have a small set in a plastic baggie and we take out the full set on an as-needed basis.) 

Within the drawers I have some smaller plastic tubs to keep things in a little bit better order.  Those smaller tubs are from the Target dollar section.  We also store the Everyday Math cards in travel soap containers.  My old principal saw that idea somewhere (since the cards are the same size as regular playing cards), so she bought a huge lot of soap dishes on eBay.

What makes this organization work?  It's totally accessible to the kids.  We go through everything at the beginning of the school year and I tell the kids that pretty much except for the calculators, they can grab and use whatever tool they need whenever they need it.  If they're doing independent work I don't even make them ask me first...  They just know to go get it from their group's drawer and where it goes when they are done.  

Check back here on Wednesday for part 2 of my math organization to see how the students store their own tools at their desks!

Happy Monday!

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