It’s safe to say, as teachers, we love supplies, organization, and all the cute things. However, supplies and organization aren’t just for looks. They are essential to making learning fun and effective. In part 4 of my guided math series, I’m sharing some of my top must-have materials for implementing math stations successfully in your classroom.
You can check out the other parts of this blog series by clicking on the links below.
This post contains affiliate links. You can see my disclosure here.
Designated Space for Math Stations
When setting up your classroom, the first must have is a designated space where all of your math station materials can be accessed easily.
If you’re using a guided math bulletin board to display your rules, expectations, and procedures, this is a great space to keep all of your materials and math stations in. You can learn more about setting up a guided math bulletin board here.
This is what my designated math station space looks like.
I got these plastic colored baskets from the dollar store years ago and they’ve held up well over the years. You can also use Sterlite drawers or plastic baskets to hold math station supplies and activities.
Each basket is clearly labeled so that students know where to put materials when finished. Inside each math station basket, students will find everything they need for that activity.
If they need something else or you accidentally forget to put something in the basket (it happens to all of us!), they can most likely find it in their math tub or on this shelf that holds commonly used supplies.
The pink and purple baskets you see on the middle shelf hold dice cups, money cups, and dry erase markers. My monthly math stations are held in the Sterilite containers on the bottom shelf. The colored drawer cart to the right holds all of my math stations by concept.
The most important thing to keep in mind when setting up your designated space is to keep it simple and functional for you and your students. It doesn’t all have to be super fancy or perfectly labeled. Do what works for you and your classroom.
The next must have for math stations is a rotation board. Keep this on display where students can easily see it so they know exactly where they are going next.
If you don’t have the wall space for a large display, you can also use a digital rotation board. I like to display this one with the names of each activity for each group. It is also editable, so you can easily change the text to show students’ names or math station directions.
This rotation board includes three different group theme options that you can easily customize to meet the needs of your classroom:
Now comes my favorite must haves for math stations… manipulatives! Manipulatives are what make math stations come to life. They make basic activities more engaging for students and also allow for differentiation.
I’m going to share some of my favorite basic supplies and manipulatives that I like to use on a daily and weekly basis for math stations. You can click on any of the links below to purchase.
Must Have Supplies and Manipulatives
Cardstock is great for so many reasons. First off, it’s so bright and colorful, which every teacher loves! Secondly, it is sturdy, making it perfect to print your math station materials on.
You can print on white or colored cardstock and laminate to make your materials last for years to come. That way, you don’t have to re-prep your math stations year after year. A little work up front will save you a ton of time later on.
If you print on colored cardstock, you can use black and white ink to save on colored copies.
Poly Zip folders are durable plastic zipper pockets that allow you to store all of your materials inside. I like to use them over a regular Ziploc bag because you can fit a full-size direction page inside while still allowing you to zip the folder shut.
This prevents pieces from falling out and getting lost. Plus, there’s enough room for recording sheets, task cards, dice, or anything else you need for the activity.
I use dry erase pockets for everything! Rather than running off a ton of recording sheets for each student, you can save some paper and run off a few copies instead. Just slide them into these dry erase pockets and have students write their answer with a dry erase marker.
If you’re wanting to hold students accountable for their learning, they can do one of the following:
- quickly bring their pocket up to you for a quick check.
- take a photo of their work using a device for you to check later.
- take a photo and upload it to Seesaw (an online student portfolio that makes student/teacher communication easy and fun). This allows you to leave comments
on student work.
Dry erase pockets seriously cuts down on material prep, copies, and paper chaos.
If student work can be done with dry erase boards, save that paper and let them use them to solve problems and show their answers.
Not only does it cut down on prep and paper, but it makes activities a little more fun for students, too!
I love transparent spinners because they can be used with any type of spinner activity. They lay flat on any spinner page, so they can be used on multiple activities. No more paperclips flying through the air!
Dice are one of my favorite supplies for differentiation. Whiz dice are a random assortment of dice in different shapes and numbers. Some dice are 3-sided, 6-sided, 10-sided, etc. Some even have larger 3-digit numbers.
These are the best way to differentiate activities. Students can even do the same activity, but with different dice for differentiation.
I truly think every teacher needs these in their classroom. The best part is that you can get 200 random assorted different types of dice to use all year long.
I love these number lines because they are durable and plastic. Your students can write on them with a dry erase marker and it will easily come off.
I made these ten frames myself. They are double sided with single and double ten frames. Students will use these a lot throughout the year to solve different problems. You can grab them here for FREE!
I also made these 120 charts myself because a class set of durable 120 charts can also be expensive. I printed them onto cardstock and laminated them so they can also be used with a dry erase marker. You can grab them here for FREE!
You can use printable cards or a deck of cards from the dollar store for various activities. I like to keep several sets on hand to use with games and creating numbers. I purchased these large playing cards and my students were obsessed with them. They are perfect for whole group lessons.
Linking cubes are one of my favorite manipulatives. They can be used for several activities. They are great game pieces too.
Some of my other must have manipulatives for math stations include:
- Mixed coins
- Magnetic coins
- Student clocks
- Base ten blocks
- Magnetic base ten blocks
- Two color counters
- Pattern blocks
- 3D shapes
Hopefully, your school already provides you with a lot of these supplies. I know that purchasing materials on your own can add up quickly. I try to get a few little things at a time.
Storing Math Manipulatives
I like to store all of my manipulatives and tools in clear tubs so that my students can easily see what is inside. You will also want to label each of your math manipulatives so supplies do not get mixed up. This prevents them from having to dig through each one to find what they need.
Since the purpose of math stations is to spiral review, your students will need access to a lot of different manipulatives. I recommend incorporating math manipulative tubs into your math stations.
Each student will have a shoebox size container with individual sets of manipulatives inside. Everything they may need for math stations is inside one box.
This label tells exactly how many of each manipulative should be inside. This allows students to take responsibility and be in charge of making sure they have what they need. If they are missing something, they can go to the labeled manipulative bins and restock what they need.
You can grab this math tub label for FREE here.
I hope this post gave you a good place to start as far as gathering supplies and materials needed to get you started with math stations on the right foot.
Now, do you need everything featured in this post to run guided math and math stations successfully? Absolutely not!
Do what you can with what you have. You can find my printable manipulatives for FREE here.
Learn more about these must have materials in my YouTube video below.
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