This year I have worked to increase the number of activities my students can do independently during our math block. These independent activities may be individual activities or activities that students pair up to complete. Either way, the goal is that they are able to gather materials, work on the activity, and put all materials away, without the assistance of a teacher or adult volunteer. This task is not as simple as it sounds, especially when these activities all have different game boards or activity mats. At the beginning I felt as though I was continually copying new papers, replacing activities, and reorganizing pages that were put away in the wrong place. This took valuable time from me and was not allowing them to be fully independent as they were often needing to ask for materials that were missing or misplaced.
To solve this problem and add more organization to my math block, I decided to try math binders. I have 21 binders in my room that are all exactly the same. Each binder has a copy of each activity mat/ game board. These pages are placed in smooth, plastic page protectors.
Next to the binders I have a container of dry erase markers and a container of erasers. This way when students choose their math activity they can go grab a binder and their other necessary materials, and get started right away.
Using binders saves students from having to look to find the correct game board, giving them more time to play and learn. The page protectors save paper as they are easy to erase and reuse. It is a win-win for all!