Jan 14, 2013

How We Organize Math Manipulatives

     I have a love hate relationship with our math manipulatives. I love the hands on aspect of manipulatives. I love being able to “show” how math works. I don’t like little things that don’t seem to have a specific place to go. I don’t like having a whole bunch of bins I have to sort through to find what I’m looking for. Out of frustration for not finding what we needed when we needed it and a resolution that EVERY “thing” in the school room needed to have a “home” I had an epiphany.


     I love how that looks! I know maybe only a homeschooling mom can appreciate that, but what can I say, if the shoe fits wear it.  This is our manipulative shelf, nothing new there right, I’m sure you have one. The epiphany came when I need to be able to just look at what I needed, grab and go. If you look close there are now drawer slides attached to the sides of the shelf.  Now when we need the little Judy clock I go to the “shelf”, pull it out and there she is. NO more digging and NO more hunting!  

     Several weeks ago I was sitting with Boo, he had been working on a money problem and was having a hard time figuring out what it was asking. I started looking for our small container of change and had to dig through this:


     I had to practically empty the shelf to find that small container of change.The problem is you can’t see were anything is because it’s all crowded onto the shelf. A thought came to my mind, what if I could just slide the whole shelf out, I could put more on it but everything would be visible. Now for the  “How to”.

-You will need two drawer slides to fit your shelf  (mine were 11.8” and cost around $7 for both). You will also need a measuring tape or ruler, a level, a saw (to cut the shelf with), a screwdriver, and wood screws if those are not included with your slides.

     You will need to find out how much “extra” your slides will add to your shelf. Mine didn’t say in the package directions so I mounted one side and dry fitted the whole slide system together and then measured with my ruler. You will need to times that amount by 2, mine came out to 1/2”.  This is your slide allowance. That is the amount you will need to cut off your shelf.  REMEMBER, measure TWICE because you can only cut once! Once you have that it’s pretty straight forward from there, just follow the mounting directions. NOTE: you will need to check to make sure your shelf will be level side to side and front to back or angled slightly back so it will easily roll back to place. I drew my lines on the shelf with marker and had Boo hold it while I screwed in the screws.


     The bins we use came from our local Family Dollar (3 for $1). I attached a small piece of velcro to the bottom of each bin and to the shelf so they will stay in place when I pull the shelf out, plus I can just pull it off if I need the whole bin. Super easy and once the whole thing was done I stood back and did one of those “why didn’t I think of that sooner” thoughts.


Hope that helps you organize your school room also.



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