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November 19, 2012

Creating Smart Spaces for Math Stations

By Julie Ballew
Grades PreK–K, 1–2

    In kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade classrooms in my building, students have daily opportunities to work in math stations. They play a wide variety of games related to the current unit of study. I have always loved the flexibility of stations, but the organization can be daunting, to say the least.  Each of those games and activities comes with its own set of materials and manipulatives, and you have to find space for them to be stored as well as played.  Many teachers in my building use a smart, easy system for keeping their supplies (and their students) organized. This system comes from Developing Number Concepts, which is the foundation of our district-wide curriculum. Kathy Richardson writes about it in her book, Math Time.

    In the photo above, you can see Mrs. Scott’s math stations in buckets and drawers, labeled with shapes. The materials and concepts change with each new unit, but the shape icons stay the same. (This is why they don’t have a title.)  When students choose a station, they take the entire bucket or drawer, which is filled with all of the supplies they will need, and they find the matching shape in the room. This is how they know where to sit.

    Math Station Location    Math Station Location    Math Station Location

    There are a few things I love about this system. Because the shapes aren’t labeled, teachers can change out the activities and materials at any time without having to worry about creating new labels. Also, all of the materials are housed in one space (which makes changing them out easy), but the correlating shapes are spread all throughout the room, which allows students to work in pairs without bothering other groups.

    How do you organize your stations?  Share your tips in the comments below!

    In kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grade classrooms in my building, students have daily opportunities to work in math stations. They play a wide variety of games related to the current unit of study. I have always loved the flexibility of stations, but the organization can be daunting, to say the least.  Each of those games and activities comes with its own set of materials and manipulatives, and you have to find space for them to be stored as well as played.  Many teachers in my building use a smart, easy system for keeping their supplies (and their students) organized. This system comes from Developing Number Concepts, which is the foundation of our district-wide curriculum. Kathy Richardson writes about it in her book, Math Time.

    In the photo above, you can see Mrs. Scott’s math stations in buckets and drawers, labeled with shapes. The materials and concepts change with each new unit, but the shape icons stay the same. (This is why they don’t have a title.)  When students choose a station, they take the entire bucket or drawer, which is filled with all of the supplies they will need, and they find the matching shape in the room. This is how they know where to sit.

    Math Station Location    Math Station Location    Math Station Location

    There are a few things I love about this system. Because the shapes aren’t labeled, teachers can change out the activities and materials at any time without having to worry about creating new labels. Also, all of the materials are housed in one space (which makes changing them out easy), but the correlating shapes are spread all throughout the room, which allows students to work in pairs without bothering other groups.

    How do you organize your stations?  Share your tips in the comments below!

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