Monday, August 6, 2012

Revisiting Math Work Stations

Last summer, I was so inspired after reading Debbie Diller's Math Work Stations book.

I faithfully followed the fabulous book study, which you can find the beginning of at Mrs. Wills Kindergarten blog.  I downloaded lots of freebies from other bloggers (which I am super grateful for).  I linked up and shared a few of my own.  You can find those  freebies in a post here (and more math related freebies in the math section on my sidebar).

I even did a major math makeover last summer.  You can read about it and see the pictures here.

After all that inspiration, organization and effort...I'm disappointed to admit that I felt overwhelmed, annoyed and grouchy about math work stations ALL year.  Things just did not go as I planned.  My students loved doing work stations.  But, I felt like it was a constant struggle to keep up with making all the materials (remember I had a split job for the past couple years and did not teach math during that time). It was also hard for me to balance the lessons from our math program and math work stations.  Did I say math program...oh wait we don't have one.  What we have is a binder full of math lessons that come from a variety of different programs.  When parents ask me what our math program is...I either quickly take a drink of my water and pretend that I'm choking or I pretend that I have something stuck in my contact (even though I had Lasik surgery several years ago).  I better not get started on this math program topic...enough. Back to work stations...

This summer, I've been trying to figure out...what is the real problem.  Late last night, in the middle of the night it finally came to me (summer brain...took a while).

The two most annoying things for me...

1.  preparing the materials
So, I've been making things, preparing freebies that other bloggers/teachers have shared and shopping for work station activities on Tpt and TN.  If you have recommendations of products I should consider, please let me know.

2. What in the world do I do with the work stations/materials when I'm ready to put out new work stations?
I hate feeling unorganized.  I spent so much time organizing math manipulatives, my math work station area, my chart for rotating the work stations and preparing the materials that I didn't even develop a plan for how to store things to make them easily assessible this year.  I need to fix that. Do I keep the materials in a bin?  A file?  A ziplock bag?  Do I put the manipulatives away?  Or leave them with the work station?  Store them by mathematical concept?  By month?  Help!  How do you store the math work stations/materials when you are finished with them?

I'm hoping some of you can share advice about that.  In the meantime, I've been working on a few more math freebies. I will share them with you over the next couple weeks. I use the more/less number grids pictured below as morning work for my students.  I've also laminated the strips and put them in a math work station, so students could write on them with a wipe off marker.  You can click on the image below to download the freebie from my Teachers Notebook shop.  Please consider following my shop if you don't already.  It's also in my Tpt store.

When I do literacy presentations, the biggest complaint I hear from lower elementary teachers is that it is hard to find books that are easy enough for our beginning readers (or books that can be sent home).  I've been working on some emergent readers this summer.  I just finished two beginning number sense emergent readers.  You can check them out by visiting my Tpt store and my Teachers Notebook shop.  I'll be having a sale in both my Tpt store and my Teachers Notebook shop from August 10 - 13.

I print and/or copy the books that I make for my students to read in the classroom and at home.  I also laminate a copy to keep in a basket in the classroom library to give us extra reading material.  If you like these, I'll have several more math related emergent readers on the way in the next month or so.

Hooray for me... thanks to the distraction of blogging, I made it a couple hours without feeling bummed out... even though I'm sitting in my new kitchen which was flooded on Saturday (surrounded by 6 industrial fans that sound like jet engines, 2 giant dehumidifiers that are pouring water into my new farmhouse sink via tubes that are draped all over my new granite and 5 "wet mats" taped to my soggy hardwood floors.  Thank you for all of your support and the sweet comments you've sent my way over the past couple of days.  This too shall pass and I will keep reminding myself that it could be much worse.

Off to the park with my kids!



  1. I added you to my favorites! Thanks for the freebie and the great post.
    Sarah's First Grade Snippets

  2. if your staff is looking for leveled readers that the students can take home, you could try It is a pay site, but you can try it out for (I think) seven days and download books. The school can also purchase an account so the teachers can use it.

  3. We use BRITE spots on my campus. I have modified it some, so I use the following: B= Basic Facts, R= Review & Games, I= Individualized instruction, T= Tools & Technology, and E= estimation & problem solving. For the B, R, T, and E, I have three bags (A different color for each letter, labeled on the front). So there are 12 bags in total that the students choose from each day, and they play with a partner. I only change the centers out a few times during the year because many of the items can stay for awhile. I have found this system to be very easy to keep up with and fun for the kids. If you would like more info, I would be happy to share!

  4. Oh geez, Kimberly - I had no idea you had so much going on around your house. How did the flood happen? Big hugs to you...I know how loud those industrial fans are...and you have to leave them running at night too, don't you? At least we did when the basement flooded. Big hugs to you...and let me know if you need anything!!!!! {Or if you want/need to take something off your plate!}

    Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade

  5. Hello Kimberly,
    I very much enjoyed your article, and suggest my brother about ur funky first grade fun for his child.
    thanks for sharing.

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  7. Such a free spirit you are Kimberly. Finding reasons to be happy in such adverse situations. First I thought this post would be about Mathematics.
    Make your kids learn Abacus its an amazing exercise for brain.
    Was great reading your blog. Keep sharing happy soul.
    Education Franchise

  8. Thank for sharing the wonderful information. Basically Brain Development Exercise and games help stimulate the brain and make your child think in unconventional ways to solve a problem.

    Brain Exercise Games for Kids