Great Primary Resource Packet: Use ideas for guided math groups and math centers

Posted on April 18, 2012. Filed under: Assessment, Common Core, During the Guided Math Lesson, Graphic Organizers, Math Centers, Problem Solving | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Here is a packet full of great things.  It includes finger flashcards, colorful ten frames flashcards, “I Have Who Has?” loop cards  and a variety of great story mats with pictures.  I would use these activities during guided math groups as well as in math centers.  Be sure to laminate the materials.  I might also use magnets on some of them so that the children could do them at a white board center.  Be careful with magnets and small children though, you don’t won’t them to swallow them.

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

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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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Using Math Mats in Guided Math Groups: Part 2

Posted on January 12, 2011. Filed under: During the Guided Math Lesson, Graphic Organizers, Manipulatives, Math is a Language, Mathematical Proficiency | Tags: , , , , , |

When using Math Story Mats it is really important to have a focus in the guided math group.  Think about what types of stories you are focusing on in that particular session.  CGI provides excellent resources for understanding and teaching story types. As you use the math story mats, be aware of telling different types of stories.  There are four types of stories for addition and subtraction and 5 types for multiplication and division:

Tons of Story Type Question Prompts!

It is important to practice these individual types with the students so they know how to solve them.  I would work on these story types with the mats one at a time and then I would start mixing them up.

***Be sure to search “Problem Solving” for other word problem/ problem solving posts in this blog!”

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki


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Math Mats: A Great Scaffold for Problem Solving in Guided Math Groups Part I

Posted on January 11, 2011. Filed under: Elementary math, Graphic Organizers, Manipulatives, Math is a Language, Mathematical Proficiency | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Math mats are great ways to get students to problem solve.  They provide a context, which research states is extremely important (Kulm,1984; Bickmore-Band, 1993). This context is a scaffold that helps students understand what they are doing.  They are a type of  graphical organizer that allows students to see and act out the problems they are trying to solve.

Math mats also help to relieve some of the anxiety that  word problems cause among students.  Kouba, Brown, Carpenter, Lindquist, Silver & Swafford (1988) found that word problems cause a great deal of anxiety, which I would say hinders students’ problem solving abilities, often even before they get started.  Math mats can help to ease some of that anxiety by tapping into the familiar.

You can use math mats to introduce, demonstrate, reinforce, reteach and differentiate story problem types.    They also provide students a springboard for telling their own stories.

To do any of this though, you have to start with a great math mat.  Here are a few resources:

Sparklebox has great playdoh storytelling mats for all operations.

(I like the snowman mat at the bottom of the page)

***Be Sure to Search “Problem Solving” in this blog for other relevant posts.


Bickmore-Brand(1993). Implications for research in language arts for mathematical teaching. In J. Bickmore-Brand (Ed.) Language in Mathematics. Portsmouth, N.H. Heinemann.

Kouba,V.,Brown,C.,Carpenter,T.,Lindquist, M. Silver, E.,& Swafford  J.  (1988). Results of the Fourth NAEP assessment of mathematics: number, operations and word problems. Arithmetic Teacher, 34 14-19.

Kulm,G. (1984).  The classification of problem-solving research variables.  In G.A. Goldin & C.E. McClintock (Eds). Task Variables in mathematical Problem Solving. Philadelphia: The Franklin Institute Press.

Click to access RevisedMathProblem-SolvingStoryMatsresearch.pdf

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

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