As we pass the halfway point in our school year, one thing that is often a year-long issue is keeping all the math “stuff” organized! If you are doing any small group work, you know that pieces and papers and parts can end up all over the place! Here are a few tips that might help things run a little more smoothly-and save you and your students a little time and frustration. Don’t get me wrong…I have dice and counters ALL over my room–but if I didn’t have a FEW systems in place, my room would be an even bigger mess!
For me, this is huge. If I am teaching a small group or coaching a student, I don’t want to be interrupted to be asked where the rulers are or where to find something. I start my school year by showing students where everything is and how to put it away. After all, we don’t want them to only use a ruler or other supplies when we TELL them to, we want them to recognize when they are needed and go get them independently.
I often have different activities that I want my students doing during their independent or cooperative time, but they may not remember what they are called or where they go. I have a few different types of baskets and storage systems–but I hang laminated cards on each where I can either list the name of the activity or specific directions. When it’s time to switch activities, I can wipe them off and start with a new one.
I use a TON of games in my room, many of which have cardstock card decks that I make. Before I cut out the cards, I swipe different colored marker across each row of cards–and then when they are cut out, each card in the set has a colored mark. I tend to make 3-6 copies of each game, so this helps students know where missing parts go.
Much like my laminated labels, I love using one of those rainbow drawer towers for the games I want students to have access to. I do NOT leave all my games out at once–just the ones that I choose for whatever reason…fluency work, review, and so on. Not all students use games from ALL the drawers, but this way there aren’t 40 games around the room all the time. Notice that I even have wipe off labels on the drawers to write what skill that game works on.
I use a lot of baggies for games…small baggies for parts, large bags for the game boards and smaller parts. It was SO worth it to me to buy a huge pack of dice so I can put the needed dice and counters in each game so students can grab a bag and go…no searching for dice and supplies. No wasted time!
Similarly, every time I introduce a new game, I show students exactly what parts are included and how it should be stored. The goal is for ME to do NOTHING related to game organization! Students can rise to the challenge if they know the expectations.
I also keep a giant tub where I keep my “out of circulation” games. If I need something for reteaching or for an intervention group, then I have one place to go looking for it.
So…hope you found something that might be useful to you this year! All the games shown above are found in my store under my “Dollar Deals” category. They are all low prep games that are a great way to have students practice skills, to use in intervention groups, or even to send home for review. Here are a few of the ones pictured.