Focus on Math

Helping children become mathematicians!

Upcoming “Toolkit” Workshop September 19, 2011

Filed under: General Math — Focus on Math @ 4:31 pm

For those of you in the Fort St. John, BC area, I will be doing a workshop here at the SD#60 Board Office on October 13. Registration is free to SD#60 employees (teachers, TOC’s. EA’s, ASW’s); for others there is a cost of $25 for the session.

Creating toolkits with students is a wonderful way for them to develop a mindset of using concrete and visual things to help them understand and talk about mathematical concepts. Manipulatives and tools are less effective if  brought out by the teacher only for the occasional lesson. It is much more powerful if tools are available to the students every day for solving problems, part of the norm, not an “add on”.

I hope you get a chance to join us for the session and build a sample toolkit.
Mathematically yours,


Math Toolkits for Students: The Basics (part 2) May 17, 2011

In the first toolkit post I set the background for toolkits, so now let’s look the the really important part — what goes into the tookits. I will first list items that I have used and recommended for all students in grades 1 to 7. (Please note that the toolkit idea may even be useful in grades 8 and 9, but I have not personally used them in those grades or carefully looked at the curriculum to see which tools might be useful in a toolkit.)

Toolkit Contents for grades 1-7:

  • A response board and appropriate tool for writing
  • A large, laminated 100 chart and/or 0-99 chart
  • A large, laminated 100-dot array (see illustration — I LOVE this tool!!!!)
  • A mini-deck of cards (playing cards ace to 10, one of each)
  • A set on numerals 0-9 (two of each is best) along with symbols for “greater than”, “less than”, and “equals” — also a decimal point for older students
  • Bingo chips or punched-paper circles (in a snack-sized zip baggie)
  • A piece of string (random length for each child), wrapped around a piece of box-board to keep it “tidy”
  • A ruler marked in cm (also mm for older students)
  • Pattern blocks (either real, or die cut out of construction paper, in a snack-sized zip baggie)
  • Blank spinners, with pre-marked sections — paper part only
  • Paper clips to use as the spinning part of “fast spinners”
  • small mirror(s) — hinged ones are fabulous!!

In reality, it is hard for me to put this list out there without stopping at every item and going through a set of activities that uses the particular tool — thus I do a workshop about creating and using toolkits! But for now I will just post the list and elaborate if someone has a question about a particular item.

Mathematically yours,