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Manipulatives for Everyday Math


Full Member
I need some suggestions on how to organize and store tool kids for Everyday Math for first grade.

E.M. has a different activity for each lesson and as each day passes, the rules for each "game" changes. We have everything from dice, dominoes, "Top It!" playing cards, coins, etc. While I would like to have my students use these in centers, I have limited centers because of constant behavior issues. I also loathe using the manipulatives during instruction because students NEVER listen or pay attention. I've tried using my own Overhead Maniuplatives during instruction and guided practice, but when I leave them to do the activities independently, they never get it right! Most teachers in my district are on Chapter 4 or beginning Chapter 5; I'm still on lesson 3.10 and 3.11 because my kids cannot count change! And it's ridiculous because we've been doing Everyday Counts since the first day of school!

I'd like to teach in small groups, and this week and part of last week I started integrating my learning groups, but it just doesn't work for me because the students who are not with me during instruction don't have enough to do...and I know I'm not reaching all of my students like I'm supposed to during whole-group instruction.

I'm just really frustrated and irritated right now. During a math lesson today, I had one student crawling on the floor, while about 5 other students were either talking or just not paying attention. I just shut the overhead off and made them complete 5 pages of assignments. It was BLISS! They haven't been that quiet all year! Why does it take such drastic measures to get students to be quiet and pay attention?


Full Member
I know!

I use EM too and my class is very similar to yours! I don't make tool kits for my class. I have pennies counted out in groups of 20 and put in individual containers. When we need them, I pass them out. I keep the calculators aside and do the same thing. The one thing my kids need and depend upon are the 100 grids. And even these are at the front of the room on a table and are passed out when needed. I do most lessons whole class--even many journal pages---and I write the answers on the board---AND THEY STILL CAN'T FOLLOW ALONG! So, sadly, I think some of it is the makeup of my class (and maybe yours) and some of it is the EM program. (see my post about math program further down) I'm hoping our district will choose a more developmentally appropriate program.
Good luck!



Are you new to Everyday Math? If yes, stick with it and you will see the results. At first I thought that EM was out there, now I love it. It is all about the process and it really allows the kids to learn why they got the answers they did not just how to find the answer! Math kits--Go to your local bank and get the bank bags with the zippers for each student. As kids make game pieces they add to it, as well as each bag has a calculater, ruler, etc etc. Assign each student a number and write the numbers with a Sharpie on each bag.
With everyday math, the math messages and the game parts are important. try to follow the Manual that came with EM, as it walks you right through each lesson.


Full Member
This is my second year with EM

I follow the directions, and I follow along with the cues listed in the Teacher's Manual. But when presenting it to the class, I'm always wondering, "Is this making sense to them?". I distribute the materials as the manual suggests; I even use the overhead manipulatives. The problem is as soon as they get the pieces in their hands, they don't pay attention! I've tried holding off on the manipulatives until we've first had a chance to go through some of the exercises, but sometimes it's not always possible for students to get the full understanding of what I'm doing unless they are doing it also.

I have a few who don't learn the objective the activity. They take the pieces and make their own games. I don't find my students coming away from the lessons with a firm grasp of the concepts, and it reflects in thier Math Journals, the Skills Link pages, and their Chapter Assessments.


Junior Member
I also use EM and I really don't like it (at least not for the population of kids at my school). I do find myself getting frustrated when the kids dont get the concepts - but you have to remember that not every concept is being presented so that the kids master it. Many skills are only beginning or developing skills. In fact, there are very few skills that are secure and should be mastered by the end of first grade. Its a good thing to keep this in mind as you are teaching it.



Junior Member
I have taught using EM for 4 years now and every year I like it more. How much time do you have for Math daily?

If you have an hour or more, you might want to try a circle/seat/center approach - divide your class into three groups; have one group in direct teaching with you, one group at their seats doing a journal page and writing in a math response journal, and a third group in a center doing the math games for the day.

After you introduce the math games and talk briefly about the journal page (I am one page behind in the journal so that the first group has the knowledge base needed to do the page for the day), you have 15 - 20 minutes to work with a smaller group on the lesson for the day.

I start with my highest math group at their seats working on the journal page so I can answer any questions the other groups have during circle time before I send them to their seats for seat work.
I only need manipulatives for the small group I am working with at the time, so it is easier to manage materials and MUCH easier to keep an eye on students and make sure they understand and are on task when they are with me.
At the end of the session, we come together and de-brief. We talk about the journal page and work through any problems.

This works great for me - but it does take about an hour a day to do effectively.