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Debbie Diller

Math Stations

Debbie Diller, Math Stations

I have always loved doing Literacy Stations with first graders and decided to give Math Stations a try this year.  I am so glad I did! I love them and they are a great way to review math skills, provide independent practice, and provide me a chance to meet with small groups during our math instructional focus groups time.  I used Debbie Diller’s Math Workstations book to help me set up and organize my stations. She has a ton of great ideas in there and a ton of great games and math practice. 

The first few weeks of school we started Math Stations and spent a lot of time setting up expectations for how they would run.  We made an anchor chart together the first day to set-up expectations. Our expectations were –

  • Use Level 1 whisper voice
  • Be kind and share
  • Take turns – rock, paper, scissors
  • Talk about math – numbers, patterns, shapes etc.

Sorry for the poor quality of this picture. I was taking quick shots of the room before the end of the year and wish the chair wasn’t in the way. Below you’ll see a picture of the Anchor Chart for Expecations.

After setting up our class expectations, I spent a lot of time explaining how the stations worked and we practiced how to use them and how to clean up – A LOT!  The first week or two, I had manipulatives in the station bins so they could get used to what we use in first grade, but didn’t need a lot of directions on what to do. I used manipulatives like pattern blocks, snap cubes, unifix cubes, tiles, foam shapes, etc.  This gave the kids a chance to practice how to act at stations without needing to also worry about how to play games.
Once stations were running smoothly and clean up went well, I started adding in math games. I have 12 math stations.  Station 11 is laptops and Station 12 is Smart Board. Stations 1-10 is located in a plastic container.  I double up stations so two stations are the same so that I’m not making up 10 different stations every few weeks. In addition to math games that we’ve played through Investigations being put in the bins (Compare, Count to 20, and more), I also put in math books that they can read with their partner.  I’ll put in more info on this later. Right now our school is being cleaned, so I don’t have access to everything so I’ll do a follow-up post. 
For partners, I pair kids in groups of 2 with kids that are at their math level. It makes pulling groups easier because I can just pull partnerships.  I use the pocket chart on my chalkboard to show what station kids are going to. See below…


Below you will see a picture of the bins where I keep the math stations. Again, please ignore the clutter. The end of the year isn’t the best for taking pictures like these.

Since everything is numbered 1-12, partners so they know which station to go to, bins so they know which bin to get, I also have areas around the room numbered. If a partnership is at Station 1, they grab the Station 1 bin and go to the designated location for Station 1. I find this helps ease the chaos of where do we go and everyone always wanting to go to the exact same spot. Each station has a location which helps keep things managable.
Sorry for this rambling post. This is probably the longest post I’ve written, but I’m so excited about Math Stations I had to share. I’ll add some game and book ideas later once I get back into my classroom. 
Hope everyone is having a great summer!