# Guided Math Manipulatives

My love for math manipulatives began my first year of teaching when boxes of manipulatives were delivered to my classroom. It was 1997 and I was teaching second grade. I didn’t know it, but my district had purchased a new math adoption. This program was everything I had never experienced as a mathematician and student. In fact, when I opened the boxes of manipulatives, I was sure these “toys” were meant for kindergarten. I triple-checked the boxes to find that they were in fact labeled as “second grade.” I began to be sick to my stomach wondering how on earth I was to teach math using a pegboard, rubber bands, and cubes that snapped together. Never in my life had I seen Guided Math manipulatives.

## GUIDED MATH MANIPULATIVES

A nervous pit began in my stomach so when I found the teacher manual, I tucked it into my tote to take home for my bedtime story. My math experience was always watching the teacher do math while I tried to copy her process. How was I the teacher going to teach math with these “toys” as the expert in the room when I had no idea what they even taught? Do foam base ten blocks teach subtraction with regrouping? If so, how? As I began to read and understand the purpose behind the different types of manipulatives I had unboxed, I became very excited. I was thrilled to be able to teach math in a way that connected understanding to the procedure. This was a game-changer moment in my teaching career.

Over the next two decades following my initial exposure to the math manipulatives, I continued to teach both conceptually and procedurally. What I found was students need both the underlying foundation and the step-by-step procedures of solving. Over the course of my years of teaching math using a range of math adoptions and resources, I began to notice patterns in learning with my students.

## GUIDED MATH

My resource, Guided Math, brings together conceptual understanding and procedural math. Using math manipulatives students engage in math exploration to build their conceptual understanding. Simultaneously, students learn strategies and procedures for problem-solving. Finally, students work through all math standards in many formats and modalities under the math workshop structure. Guided Math ensures that both teachers and students have the materials for whole group and small group instruction. Guided Math can be purchased to download and prep, or in fully prepped totes (pictured below) through Hand2Mind.

## LABELS FOR GUIDED MATH MANIPULATIVES

Recently, our team put together a free resource to help organize guided math manipulatives. These labels make it easier to grab manipulatives for instruction and workstations when needed. Being able to grab my manipulatives to use in a workstation or at the small group table saves time and energy. I prefer to keep manipulatives either behind my small group area for easy access, or where I keep my workstation tubs. This makes them accessible when I need them most!

Grab these free labels for your own organization HERE. You’ll also get a complete list of manipulatives for your grade level in the free download. This makes it easy to see what new manipulatives you may want in the future.

## GUIDED MATH ORGANIZATION

For more information on resources and organization of Guided Math materials, visit this post! In the post mentioned, you will also find a link to a YouTube video where I walk you through the setup pictured. I will show you my labels and resources plus there are even more free labels!

Speaking of Guided Math, the heart of the guided math structure is small group time. Here is a post all about how to do that crucial teacher-led small group time in both traditional and digital formats.