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From Tub to Tray

January 5, 2022

This vitamin comes from a math workshop, From Tub to Tray, offered to preschool teachers. The focus was on providing children activities that support repetition and internalization of math concepts. Having well-designed materials at the ready is crucial to children’s opportunities to choose and repeat activities. Use your math tubs as inspiration for sets of materials you can set out on trays on a well-designed and inviting math shelf. 

Using a tub of manipulatives, ask yourself,  “What do I want the children to learn”? Collect the “just right” amount of manipulatives to meet this objective (control of error) and set it out on a tray. Then, add tools and scaffolds to support learning.

Tub of Cuisenaire rods
Tub of Cuisenaire rods                              
Counting sets of Cuisenaire rods to 5
Counting  and producing small groups           
Divided tray to compare Cuisenaire rods
Making comparisons
Tub of colorful dominoes
Dived tray with tiles and dominoes

A tub of dominoes and some tiles (beautiful Stuff Project) along with a divided tray (Target) is set up as a self-directed addition learning experience. The numeral cards reinforce the dots and build the connection between symbol and quantity.

Preschool math shelf with individual math kits and trays
Well-designed and inviting math shelf

At a Shelf: Building a Repertoire of Activities

  • What shall I do today? What does the set up of these materials invite me, “tell me” to do?
  • Control of error can be built in.
  • Children can use a checklist/rotation system to take ownership of their learning.

Additions: spinners, dice, variations among sets (differentiation) dry erase boards.

Check out the Erikson Institute Early Math Collaborative website out of Chicago. Full of great resources, videos, and a section on Big Idea concepts.

Year-Long Trajectory

The Year-Long Trajectory is your scope and sequence for learning experiences across the year.

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