Saturday, February 1, 2014

Dipping into Math Tubs

Well who am I kidding? I don't dip into anything. This is how I operate: read about something I find interesting, mule it over in my mind, research everything I can about it, gather materials, and then dive full in and go for it.

Just a little over a year ago I found this amazing land of teacher blogs. They have opened my world and renewed my love for teaching. Thank you to everyone who takes the time to write posts and develop teaching materials.

The idea of using math tubs to gain time for guided math and small group teaching has been nudging at me for some time. I've been doing guided reading for years in order to teach reading in small groups - why wouldn't teaching math that way work? So I read EVERY blog post I could find on math tubs/stations/bins/centers. I even purchased Debbie Diller's book Math Work Stations. I will be honest here, I haven't finished reading it yet.

Then I gathered. Oh ~ that Teachers Pay Teachers is an addiction ~ I'll tell you. I bought some Winter Math Packs and filled in the gaps with some wonderful freebies. Next, I drug my poor husband to Walmart and we bought 10 of those beautiful bins below.

The following weekend was spent printing, laminating, cutting, and loading up the bins. Finally, I was all ready to go.

These awesome editable tags are free here. Made by Play, Learn and Grow in Kindergarden. To get them small enough to fit on the bins I just printed several pages on one page.
This is the chart I use to rotate the children through the centers. Some days we do one rotation, other days we do more than one. It uses the same labels above just printed full size. There are also cards for bins nine, ten, and meet with the teacher. The names stay put and I simply move the bin numbers.
This Snowman Place Value game was made by Primary Palace and is available here.
These make 10 cards come from Linda Martin's Winter Math Tubs Pack available here.
These penguin cards also are part of the Winter Math Tubs Pack.
So how did it go you might ask? Each bin was introduced and taught over several days. Then we jumped in. During the first two weeks I did not meet with any groups, but rather helped the students with their bin activities. I was amazed at how well they worked with just one partner. When a partner is absent the child works independently. The children were ALL so engaged with math. Once they had the hang of it I began working with small groups. Wow! Just Wow! Time to help those who needed it, time to nudge those who needed it, and time to enrich! I can tell you I will always have math bins in my classroom. No looking back.

I do not use paper recording sheets, but rather laminated them so the children can use dry erase markers. Before clean up I do a quick walk around and look at their work before its erased, making notes of who understands and who needs more help. Such joy - less papers to copy and grade.

The math bins fit into my day nicely. Math starts with calendar activities, a large group lesson on the current topic, and then math bin/small group time.
I've also found that early finishers love to dip into a bin.

After I dive in and swim around for awhile. I stop and think very carefully about how things went. Here are my next steps:

Plan more carefully for exactly what I want in each bin. I must be careful that it is something I want my children to practice, but they can do it with little or no help. Now I know why teachers create their own materials - so they can get exactly what their students need. My computer skills aren't quite there yet. Maybe this summer I'll dapple with some creating. For now its off to careful searching on TPT.

I'd like to add a computer center to the rotation. I have 4 laptops in my room and have just begun using computer sheets for my animal themes. Sharing Kindergarden makes and sells these on TPT. If you have never heard of these go to her blog and read about them. I promise you won't be sorry.

Next up, I'd like to add a sensory bin. Nobody makes these better than Sandi at Rubber Boots and Elf Shoes. These bins give children a sensory experience while sorting, patterning, counting, and speaking. If you read through Sandi's blog you will find she's created a huge variety of these bins.

Last, I would like to include a habitat bin. This bin would be along the lines of Sandi's sensory bins, but would include items that pertain to the habitat and animals we are currently studying in class. It would also include a list of rigorous questions to consider while using the bin. This idea comes from Miss Trayers at Not Just Child's Play. She finds the most amazing ways to add rigor to her kindergardeners' learning daily! Be sure to read her post on Groundhog Rigor.

There you have it a new way - for me - to teach math. Thank you one and all for leading me down this path.

Last, but not least HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my dear granddaughter ~ Roo, who has just turned one!

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  1. Maria, you had stopped by my blog: Teaching By The Sea and left a comment about centers. I wanted to pay you a visit and I am so glad I did! Now I really like those sensory bins, but I love your math tubs. Thanks for showing how you do your rotation: 1 goes down to 2 and 10 comes up to where 1 was ... right? I can do this. I am going to drag my hubby to Walmart and purchase the same tubs and get busy. I might not get them finished before spring, but I will have started! Love it! Thanks, Pam

  2. Thanks for stopping by. Yes - that is how I do the rotation. Somedays we will do one, others two, and some days we don't get to them, but they are always ready and waiting. I also found early finishers love to use the bins while waiting for their peers to finish.The first year setting them up is proving to be time consuming and costly. It is my hope that once I have them complete they will be good to go for many years. Laminating them means much less copying. They write right on the recording sheets with dry erase markers. Good luck and enjoy!