Math Manipulative Toolbox for Students
“The student is expected to select tools, including real objects, manipulatives, paper and pencil, and technology as appropriate….”blah blah blah. I know you’ve seen it! That process standard shows up in every TEK strand from kindergarten all the way to statistics and pre-cal. But are we really allowing students to choose their tools…or are we handing them exactly what they will need to complete a lesson or activity?
And so the math toolbox was born! I wanted to give students more ownership in the classroom and an opportunity to select their math tools as needed. So whether we were working through our math warm up, with table groups at stations, or needing some hands on tools for tackling division, students had what they needed right at their fingertips!
The container itself is from Micheal’s, but you could definitely use any container that works for you and your classroom! Your math toolboxes may look different than mine, depending on your grade level. Here’s what is included in my math toolkits for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade:
Base 10 Blocks
Place Value Cards
How we keep them organized
I did not want them to become junk boxes! So we needed a way for them to stay organized. Our math toolboxes wouldn’t do us much good if we weren’t going to be able to find the tools we were needing. I took pictures of what I wanted the inside of the box to look like and taped it on the outside of each box. Students would refer to this when we were cleaning up from stations. I also made sure to continually reinforce this and would walk around to check them.
Tools not Toys
Most of the time, I left the boxes out in the middle of the student desk. I wanted easy access! I wanted students to know that they were welcome to appropriately use anything in the box whenever the felt like it was needed. Stress on appropriately! We definitely had regular talks about how the items were tools, not toys! They were meant to help with learning and understanding, not just for entertainment.
You can grab some FREE math toolbox labels here!
What other things would you include for your math toolboxes?