Ideas for Using Math Mats in Guided Math Groups: Part 3

Posted on January 13, 2011. Filed under: During the Guided Math Lesson, Elementary math, Graphic Organizers, Guided math, Manipulatives, Math is a Language, Mathematical Proficiency | Tags: , , , , , |

You want to make sure that students have some concrete experiences, some pictorial experiences and some abstract experiences.  With Math Story Mats I would start by acting out the stories with manipulatives.  Later, I would have the students draw out the stories.  Finally, I would have them write the words and symbols connected to the stories.   For this step, I would have number cards and math symbols so the students could show the number models.  I would also have them write out number models. Sometimes I would have them match the story problem with the number model and then model it on the math mat.

Grouws and Cebulla (2000) found that working with partners for problem solving increases student achievement. They also found that long term use of manipulatives increases math achievement.  With story mats you can have students working with partners and using manipulatives to represent their thinking.

  • Have stories written on task cards.  The students pull the cards and model the story with manipulatives to solve it.
  • Have students work in partners and one partner tells a story while the other one represents it on the math mat.
  • Have student’s tell their own story and represent it on the math mat as they are telling it and others listen.
  • Have a student tell a story and the group represents and solves it on their own individual math mats.
  • Remember to always have a small group discussion after the practice so students can concretize their learning.  Grouws and Cebulla found that this discussion helps raise student achievement because students get to hear others and think about their own reasoning.

***Be sure to search “Problem Solving” and “Word Problems” in this blog to find other related posts!


Grouws,D. & Cebulla, K. (2000).  Improving Student Achievement in Mathematics. Geneva, Switzerland: International Academy of Education International Bureau of Education.  Educational Practices Series 4.

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki



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2 Responses to “Ideas for Using Math Mats in Guided Math Groups: Part 3”

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Hi Dr. Nicki,
Are math mats just for the primary grades, or could Grades 4/5 also use them? The intermediate students need problem-solving strategies, such as the concrete, and pictorial representation. Am I misunderstanding how to effectively use the math mat?? Set me straight.

I would use mats with all grade levels- focusing on the cgi story types especially for multiplication and division with the upper grades.

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