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Organizing Your Manipulatives

by Early Math Counts

I vividly remember the days when every single toy in my classroom was dumped out onto the floor and the thought of cleaning all of them up making me feel sick to my stomach.

I know that this is the reason a lot of teachers only allow certain areas of the room to be open at a time, or why they put baskets of toys up on high shelves.  It is simply too much to clean up every single day with very small children.  buckets tied together

Organizing the classroom manipulatives in ways that boost children’s attempts at cleaning up while supporting the early mathematical concept of sorting and categorizing can also  help you out.  Imagine having bins put together like the ones above so that toddlers can see what toy goes where.  At the bottom of each bin, put a colorful picture of the type of toy that belongs in the bin so even if emptied out, the children can easily see that what each bin is for.

Having baskets with labels on them is also a good idea.baskets with pictures

I don’t think you need to frame the pictures (although it is a nice touch) but with a little bit of effort, your camera cell phone and a color printer, you can make labels that clearly let the children know what belongs inside.

I also like these buckets although I would have drawings or pictures of the toys in addition to the words.  They now make chalkboard paint that you can put virtually anywhere.  Once dry, you can write on the surface and erase it just like an old-fashioned chalk board.  Using this method allows for flexibility and multipurpose use of organizing materials. buckets for organizingAt clean up time, allow the children to sort the toys to the best of their abilities.  They will not always get it right and will still need a lot of adult supervision and intervention, but developing a system that allows the children some autonomy in the efforts is a good thing, for them and for you.

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