Monday, March 19, 2012

Math Workshop Model and 4 FREEBIES!

Welcome Mary Lirette from Mrs. Lirette's Learning Detectives as a first time guest blogger!

When I started teaching kindergarten, I knew I wanted to utilize math tubs.  I had 20 students so I wanted to have 20 different math tubs available.  20 at one time?? Yes, let me explain.   I taught whole group math on Mondays and guided groups with specific station activities on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Wednesdays and Fridays were reserved for what I referred to as "Tub Time."  It was a specific 30 minute block where my kids were able to review past concepts, build on current skills, or explore with manipulatives.  I wanted these tubs to be engaging, fun, and beneficial.  It was also a time where I could pull a small group or individual for reteaching if needed, or just mingle around the room to observe my students in action.  At the beginning of the year I would place specific tubs in front of each student.  By the end, my students were able to freely choose which tubs they wanted to work with.  We would rotate or swap tubs every 5 minutes so that we were able to work in about 5 tubs each day.  This timing worked well for my class because it encouraged my kiddos to get to work right away, therefore eliminating their time off task.  Plus, these tubs were meant to be quick review lessons or exploration activities- not lengthy assignments.
That first year, I put so much thought and planning into my tub activities.  I'll be honest...I went a little overboard.  :)  I had specific cutesy activities for each season and I spent so much time cutting and laminating!  By the end of the year I realized that the tubs that were the most popular were the basic ones that required few pieces and little planning time.  Phew!  Here are a few examples of a few "staples" that stuck around for a good chunk of the year.
  • Connect-the-dot pictures are great for number order.  You can find a huge selection of free ones on the internet that range in difficulty.  
  • Pattern blocks are also wonderful!  You can provide templates (also many free ones on the internet) or challenge students to create their own pictures, numbers, etc. with the blocks.  
  • Beads and string are great for patterning!  You can usually find large beads for pretty cheap.  I prefer the wood ones and shoelaces.
  • You can find the racetrack numbers and shapes at  Print and add a race car or two!
  • I found this Vtech handheld math game on clearance for $4 at Wal-Mart a few years back.  Well worth the batteries it runs through each year!
  • A geoboard and a hand full of rubber bands make for an exciting math tub!  You can provide picture cards for the kids to duplicate.  The number 7 is pictured but I found a great variety of shapes and designs for free online.  I shrank them down to card size and I would add different cards to spice up the tub throughout the year.
  • These shape puzzles came from the Target Dollar Spot last year.  They look simple but they are really quite difficult!  You really have to have a good grasp on shapes and spatial sense to work them quickly.
  • These lacing cards also came from the Target Dollar Spot {love that place!}.  It always amazes me how difficult lacing is for 5 year olds.  You can even challenge your students to lace a shape or number into the rectangle board.
I also liked to incorporate counting and sorting games.  Here's a look at a few I've created specifically for math tubs:


You can grab your own copy of these activities here or by clicking on the picture.  Add a few dice and some plastic coins and you are set with 4 different activities! :)

I hope I have given you some inexpensive ideas on how to fill up the math tubs in your classroom!  Thanks to Krissy for letting me share a little on her fabulous blog!


I have taught kindergarten, first, and second grade!  I absolutely love what I do and enjoy creating and sharing my ideas with others.
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