My Favorite Math Tools

Hey again everyone! Today, I wanted to stop by and share a few of the tools I use for math that I just can't live without.

I may be the kind of teacher that loves loves loves math manipulatives, tools and organizers. So, when I see something I like, I usually have to grab it. Sometimes, I get it first and figure out what to do with it later! My husband hates it when I do that, but usually it works out just fine and my students have another tool that can help them learn.

In my 3rd grade class, we just finished up our first unit on multiplication and division. This is the first time our students have been introduced to these concepts, so I find using concrete tools and organizers to be extremely important to develop their understanding!

I think my favorite tool is probably the cheapest one I've ever bought - beans!


Beans can be used in so many ways! We make groups, they can create arrays, and they can use them to model division. They are cheap, they are small and I don't have a heart attack when they lose them, or "accidentally" put them in their mouths!

Last year, I found a great organizer to supplement the use of the beans. This amazing graphic organizer from Kayla at Primary Junction is called a Multiplication Mat. 

Click the picture about to go to her blog post!
This has been a great tool for the students to model their multiplication AND division problems with the beans. I have laminated them and put one for each student in their personal Math Bags that they keep in their desks. And, to make it even more amazing, it's free! You can get your own copy by clicking the picture to take you to her blog post.

Another favorite tool for learning about multiplication are good ol' colored tiles. 

We use these to start making arrays and making connections to area. They are such a versatile tool and can be used in so many ways. In fact, they often use them for many different things throughout the year. If you don't have them in your room yet, I highly recommend them!

I just have one other tip for tonight. I used to have my math tools at the back of the room on a shelf by the back door. They were usually pretty cluttered and scattered about...not very organized. I also think it was hard for kids to know and remember that they were even back there! So this year, I made it a point to move my math manipulatives to the front of the room and organize them. 

I put all the manipulatives on the shelves, as well as a few games and the calculators. In the drawers, I put graph paper, extra hundreds charts, rectangle paper for fractions, and a few other games that are flat! It has made a huge difference. I notice the kids are a lot more independent when using the manipulatives and they don't even ask anymore. They just get what they need or what they think will help them solve the problem they are working on. Go third graders!

There you have it! Some of my favorite math tools. What are yours?

Nichole from The Craft of Teaching

The Craft of Teaching


  1. Tanagrams are my favorite. My students LOVE them and on top of that they ended up learning those geometry standards without even realizing it.

    1. Oh I love Tangrams too! They have such a good time with them. :-)


  2. I forgot to add, my TpT freebie is labels for math manipulatives!! I love keeping them organized so the kids and myself can find them easily and put them away easily.

  3. I love how you organized all your manipulatives. I would reorganize every year and try to make it more user friendly for the kids. Of course by mid year it was usually a mess but at least it meant they were using them and interacting with them. In second grade we probably used our base ten blocks the most.

    1. I agree...I'm happy when it's a mess! We love the base ten blocks too. :-)



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