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Math Tools I Can’t Live Without in the Classroom

We all have tips and tricks in the classroom that we swear by, right? Today, I’m sharing my favorite math tools that will make lessons easier to each and most importantly, easier for kids to understand!

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Magnetic Tens & Ones

We all know that Place Value is SOOOOOO hard to teach to first graders! Like seriously, harder than telling time or counting money {okay, maybe not that hard!} but still…quite a challenge to master tens and ones.

A few years ago I started using these magical magnetic base tens blocks. These magnets make it so easy for students to see a visual representation of the number.

These tens and ones magnets also make it much easier for students to determine ten more, ten less than a given number {another concept that is crazy hard!}

You can find the headers for these tens/ones inside of this Grab Bag!

Magnetic Tens Frames

Another must-have tool {especially during the beginning of the year!} are these magnetic Tens Frames. You can do SO many things with these – discuss odds/evens, subitize numbers, and on and on!

As the students become more comfortable with tens frames for recognizing numbers, we move into using them for flip-flop facts {official term?!}. The Tens Frames are great for improving students’ mental math skills.

Magnetic Money

These giant coins are perfect for the hardest thing to teach students -c outning money!

We do a Daily Math {more on that to come!} every single day. We begin on the first day of school and begin building on as the days go on. One of the things we use to count our days {along with tally marks, tens and ones, and more} is counting coins.

The coins are large enough that everyone can see the coins from the board anyplace they may be in my classroom. They’re two-sided as well so you can switch it up on the students!

You’ll see that many of these materials are magnetic. Let’s be honest, the less I need to tack up or add tape to, the better! Plus, kiddos can easily manipulate these materials when on the board.


We LOVE geoboards! They are great for fine motor practice and boosting creativity. You’ll be amazed at what a child can do when you toss a board and some rubber bands in front of them!

And if they have trouble, you can always add some Geoboard cards to the activity. This will give your students a jumping-off point.

I personally love the wooden geoboards because they don’t wiggle around as much as the plastic boards. But honestly, kids don’t seem to care!

Magnetic Number Bonds

How awesome are these number bonds? Way back in the day when I was learning how to add and subtract, number bonds did not exist {well at least at my school!}

So it took me a bit to get the hang of using this model. But honestly, it just makes sense! It easily shows kids the relationship between addition and subtraction. I love that they are different colors so you can easily differentiate the part versus the whole.

Centers in a Snap

Of course, I couldn’t share a list of my favorite math materials without mentioning Centers in a Snap! These done-for-you games are delivered right to your door with 12 games for each month.

All you need to do is open the box, make a few quick snips, and let your students have a blast playing.

Each game is standards-based and themed for the month. Oh, and the best part is that I teach your students how to play! They just need to scan the QR code and watch me explain it to them!

Pattern Blocks

Another fabulous manipulative for your kiddos to play with are pattern blocks. The possibilities are endless – they can make patterns, symmetrical designs, and even build.

It’s fun to pull out a bucket of pattern blocks and just see what kids make. But, I love this Melissa and Doug set because it’s self-contained and there are patterns to get the kids started.

Number Posters

An important, but often overlooked tool to have in the classroom are number posters. In my early days of teaching, I just assumed that all students knew everything about numbers! Oh how wrong I was!

Now, I have posters hanging for students to reference that are filled with the number in word and numbe form, tally marks, ten frames, and tens and ones. It’s been a gamechanger!

Do you have a favorite math game or tool in your classroom? Leave a comment and let me know!

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