Dollar Tree Finds, Math In-service, and Junk Boxes

Yesterday me and my friend Stefanie who teaches Kindergarten at the same school that I teach at attended an out of this world math in-service and got a TON of ideas to use with our kiddos next year!! We were so inspired we decided to take a trip to the Dollar Tree on the hunt for classroom treasures. And it was a complete success.. we found a ton of little treasures that we can't wait to start using!

 My brain is literally in information overload and I feel like I need to get busy right this second making some of this stuff I learned at the in-service! One awesome thing that we saw at the in-service was something called "junk boxes." What is a junk box?? Well it is a plastic container that contains a variety of items like buttons, erasers, plastic pop lids, rocks, pebbles, coins, stamps, pom poms, Barbie shoes, legos, etc, etc, etc!!! What is the junk box for?? Well whatever math standard/objective you are teaching at the time you can incorporate these junk boxes into your lesson to help reinforce the skill. They could also be used as a review tool. Here are some examples of ways students could use the junk boxes....

  • show me 5
  • show me less than 5
  • show me a pattern
  • put objects in a straight line
  • use your objects to make a square
  • show me groups of 5's then count by 5's
  • sort by size
  • sort by texture
  • sort by color
  • sort by shape
  • open sort--- let them decide how they will sort them
  • use them to show positional words
  • Put 3 objects in front of you and then 3 more. How many do you have in all?
  • addition/subtraction problems
Another idea we learned was to make a bead counter and a number bracelet. The bead counter can be used as a tool for students to keep at their desks to use to help solve math problems. The center of the bead counter is called the "work space" and that is where you move beads to work out a problem. The number bracelet can be used when you working on ways to make a certain number. For example if you are working on ways to make 8 then you might work with that for the entire week. Put a label in the middle of the bracelet to show what number bracelet you are working with that week. 

"Sure I will"
We also learned a little a management tool for those kids who just love to say NO to everything! If you have a little fella or gal that has the problem of always saying no to whatever you ask of them then make a "Sure I will" grid chart on white chart paper using the Crayola Color Switchers markers. Throughout the chart make some invisible x's and stars. Explain that when your little cutie says "sure I will" to whatever is asked of them then they will get to go up to the chart and use the color switcher marker to see they reveal an x or a star. An x will earn the kiddo a Skittle and a star will earn the whole class one! Our presenter said she found this idea in a management book called "The Tough Kid Book."

This idea could also be used as a whole class incentive and when they are caught as a class being good, following directions, receiving praise from other teachers then let one of your little cuties come up to see if they can reveal a treat. Perhaps hide letters in the chart for a special treat like pizza or ice cream and when they reveal all of the letters then they receive the treat. (thanks Stef for the hidden letter idea!) 

Here are some pics of our Dollar Tree finds, junk boxes, and number counter/bead counters...

I plan on using the colorful tubs to organize my materials for each month. The packs of little plastic bowls are for my junk boxes, and I found some baby shower favor items to use for the junk boxes and tiny hair clips, colorful band-aids, paper plates and bingo markers (I plan on making flash plates for number recognition with these two items.. we also saw this idea at the in-service.) I picked up some popcorn containers that came in 2 packs... these could be used for a center or for the calendar area to keep up with the days of the school year. I got a couple of fun ice cube trays that I plan on making a math game with, and lastly some velcro! They also had some small dry erase boards for $1!!! But I had already gotten some. I was hoping to get a class set of those colorful trays that I have seen on some blogs but unfortunately they only had 3 left. :(  Maybe next time!

A start to my junk boxes.... hair clips, pop lids, and baby shower favors!

And here is a pic of a number bracelet and the bead counter.

We received a bag of goodies at the in-service and our names were even drawn for some free Crayola Color Switcher markers. A successful day??? I think so!



Cassie Thompson said...

Looks like you had a successful training, I love when that happens! :) Thanks for sharing!

Mrs. Thompson

Adventures in Teaching

The Whity Wife said...

I wish i had awesome inservice! ok i wish i had a teaching placement/contract as well. Thanks for sharing these are great! I am sticking these in my bag of awesome to pull out with that contract (which hopefully will some soon interview in 1 week!)

Ashley said...

Thank you so much for sharing your ideas! I am getting a little fella this year that has emotional and anger issues. The little charts will def. be a positive idea to help him out.

Sara said...

Fun! I liked reading about your ideas! I am sure you are a FANTASTIC teacher, by the way. :)

Unknown said...

Awesome finds and cute ideas!!
First Grade Blue SKies

Miss B said...

LOVE these ideas! Why can't we seem to have useful inservices? I'd say maybe 2 in-services out of all of my 6 years of teaching have been good.
Miss B, Busy Bee