#FDOFG: Guided Discoveries–Math Manipulatives

I realize this post is a little bit after the true “first days of first grade,” but I’d say it still applies, and the actual learning actually took place then anyway, so that counts, right?

One of the things we do a lot of in the beginning of our time together in first grade is explore.  These guided discoveries take on many forms, and have been done with colored pencils, pattern blocks and play-doh before (among other things that are done less formally).  In the beginning days of math workshop, guided discoveries of math tools are an important learning activity.

Rotating through 6 stations–dominoes, power polygons, multilink cubes, Geoblocks, square inch tiles and Cuisenaire Rods–students were posed two simple questions to consider while they worked: “What could a mathematician use this tool to learn more about?  What are the possibilities?”  Then, in small groups, they explored the tools, for only about 7 or 8 minutes each:


Most kids built things to knock over. LOL

Power Polygons

Many kids put these together in piles and looked through them–they’re made of pretty colors. 🙂 (And yes, we’ll talk about more mathematical ways to use them later–right now it’s just work to figure them out and try things!)


Multi-Link Cubes

These tool may be the interesting just because it’s one of the most versatile.  Lots of different kinds of exploration happened in this station.


Inch Tiles

Also a versatile tool, kiddos stacked and counted, sorted and created with these little squares!

Cuisenaire Rods

While these blocks have many place value uses, many kids use them as building blocks, and many sorted them by size or color.

The last step was to chart some thoughts on our answers to those questions I posed at the beginning.

It was just the beginning, but definitely got us off on a good foot to some smart mathematical thinking this year!

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