Thursday, August 18, 2016


Rules and procedures.  Procedures and rules.  It seems that’s all we do in kindergarten during the first weeks of school!  But the remainder of the year is disastrous if not! 

We use manipulatives for our work with our adopted math program, Investigations, and before we delve into serious work, we introduce one material a day, let the children explore with it, and set up the procedures for math stations.  Each child then completes a page in their Journal for Math Materials, our KinderLit version of an interactive notebook.    

During our whole group instruction, we show the class the material for the day and go over the simple rules we have for using the materials: 
  1. Take care of the materials.  Do not throw them, put them in your mouth, or take them home. 
  2. Do not bother another child’s work. 
  3. Put them away in their correct tub and back on the shelf.
We discuss what can be done with each type of manipulative and then we give the children a chance to explore with it at a math station.  

We usually have 4 - 5 math stations during math time, at which the children work on specific tasks.  After an appropriate amount of time (about 10 - 15 minutes at the beginning of the year) we give a signal to indicate they are to clean up and stand behind their chairs.  They point to the next station and when everyone is ready, the groups move and settle in to work.  

The first material we introduce are pattern blocks because they are so colorful and fun to use!  Here are some children exploring with these blocks. 

Here’s our schedule for introducing these materials: 

Each day we begin at whole group time to discuss the rules again and then work at the stations. 

Day 1 - All stations have trays of pattern blocks and we give the children about 5 minutes to play with them.  Then we all line up behind the teacher with our hands behind our backs, walk around the room to inspect what others have done, and then return to our stations to continue exploring.  This “parade” will inspire new ideas to try out at their own stations again and is repeated each day!  

Day 2 - Half the stations have pattern blocks and half have the new manipulative of unifix cubes.  Half-way through the time, we give a signal and the children change places to work with the other manipulative. 

Day 3 - Half the stations have unifix cubes and half have the new manipulative of buttons.  Half-way through the time, we give a signal and the children change places to work with the other manipulative.  

Day 4 - Half the stations have buttons and half have the new manipulative of color tiles.  Half-way through the time, we give a signal and the children change places to work with the other manipulative.  

Day 5 - Half the stations have color tiles and half have the new manipulative of geo blocks.  Half-way through the time, we give a signal and the children change places to work with the other manipulative.  

After the stations are completed each day, the children get their Journal of Math Manipulatives from their cubbies and work on the appropriate page for the new item introduced that day.  

You can make up your own interactive notebook for math materials or purchase ours - we’ve done all the work for you!  Materials included are unifix cubes, buttons, keys, pattern blocks, color tiles, spinners, teddy bear counters, geo blocks, dice, dominoes, and a blank page to create your own.  And it's on sale for 20% off through Sunday, August 21!  

Each manipulative has two different formats as well as a page of clipart for the children to cut apart for their journal.  
Read more about this journal by clicking on this photo:


Pre-Kindergarten - 1st Grade Classroom Tools
Have you signed up for a free 60-day trial for ESGI yet?  If you sign up before Sept. 30, you will be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift card to TpT!  Click on the above button and check it out!  You can read more about the benefits of using ESGI in our previous blog post by clicking here
In that post, we promised to give you suggestions for classroom management while you are working one-on-one with a child at the computer.  Here's just a few: 
  1. Stations, such as the math ones described above, keep the children working on a task while you are working with ESGI
  2. Many of our KinderLit books lend themselves to the whole class working on a page at the same time.  After modeling the collage for the page, you are free to pull one child over to the computer while the others work on their KinderLit book page.
  3. If you are lucky enough to work at a school that provides tablets to the teachers, you can use ESGI on it.  While the children are at recess, you can stand off to the side of the playground and assess a child in a minute or two!  Tablets are so portable - just don’t do it while you’re on recess duty! 
  4. During our station time, we often lead a group at our guided reading table.  The children love to do partner reading which allows us to take one of the children to the computer to work on an assessment on ESGI.  When station time is over, so is the assessment for each student!
Anyone have more ideas?  Please share your suggestions in the comment section below! 

Happy Teaching!

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