My cooperating teacher put together these math boxes which contain 20 math cubes (10 in each color), 20 counters, dice, and cards numbered 1 – 20. Our first graders use them daily and often use laminated cards as well to build ten frames or part-part-whole models. (She also has place value cards which we have not needed to use yet). The standards these first graders are expected to meet are challenging, and new concepts are often presented before they have had time to automatize the previous ones. Using these manipulatives and tools has really enabled these six and seven year olds to develop a true number sense and have reference points for how to begin when concepts stretch their thinking.
I especially see the power of the students’ visually representing math and being able to move numbers themselves to show the action happening within equations through watching the growth of a student who transferred into the class mid-year. This student had a lot of facts memorized, but we soon realized a deep understanding of the part-part-whole model and the equal sign meaning “the same as” was lacking. Just this week, as we looked at addition and subtraction fact families, this student went from having no idea how to write the subtraction sentences when written in part=whole-part order to being able to build models of the fact families on a board and then transfer the parts and whole into subtraction number sentences.
These tools will definitely be used in my classroom next year!