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Why am I putting together a list of must have teacher supplies for math classrooms? Well, the stationery aisle at the dollar store is my happy place so believe me, I’ve tested a lot of classroom must haves over the year and have found those that truly make my classroom function better (and those that don’t). Anyone else just a little obsessed with office supplies and stationery?
So what does every math teacher need?
Must Have Math Teacher Supplies: Classroom Organization Ideas
I don’t need to tell you that creating an effective math program requires a lot of ‘stuff’ and without a good organization system, can lead to chaos.
Even if you don’t do centres in your classroom, math lessons in general require a lot of materials. Student work, manipulatives, teaching materials…
Here are some math classroom organization supplies that I can’t live without in my math classroom.
These rolling carts are a classroom organization staple. I currently have the one with 10 small drawers. Each drawer contains materials for one centre (I use 5 for math centres, 5 for language centres) and the top holds some extra teaching supplies like extra handouts, stapler and tape.
However, I absolutely want to upgrade to this larger version. The larger drawers are perfect for those centres with more materials (i.e., math journals, math games) and the extra space on top is always a bonus!
These 10-packs of clear, plastic storage containers are perfect for organizing task cards, game pieces like dice and cards, loose parts, markers and so much more.
They come in 3 different sizes and will stack perfectly on your shelves while still being able to see what is inside. Such an upgrade from the awkwardly-shaped, mismatched dollar store baskets I used to have. Nothing falls out and no more rummaging!
A while back, I created a cover page, glued it to the front of a bunch of large manila envelopes and ran them through the laminator. I’ve been in love ever since 😉
I use them to store paper type game boards such as Bingo boards, Array Wars, Battleship grids, cut out puzzles, flashcard sets and more. I can label the envelope with its contents and they take up virtually no space. Thanks to the laminating, I can change the label any time.
I post this at the front of my classroom to really help me organize math centres and student groups. It was such a lightbulb moment for me to move beyond a rotation schedule. I no longer have to worry about missing a rotation or group and messing up the schedule!
You can get mine for free by clicking the title above.
A timer is such a small but important teacher must have. I am terrible for losing track of time so I use this for centres as well as so many other activities that I don’t want to run long.
Small groups can take a timer into the hall or library to work and know when to return to class. I’ve even used it for individual students who need a break and still be back for the next activity.
Having a magnet on the back is so helpful as it means it can live on my whiteboard and I always know where it is and can easily see how much time is left.
I know teachers who love these clip-on timers instead as they can always have them with them.
Math Teacher Must Haves
So what are some of the school math supplies that will be beautifully organized? The following must have math supplies are used just about daily in my class regardless of the topic we are studying.
In my small groups, we almost never use paper. I hate wasting paper anyway, plus kids just love to use whiteboards – they’re instantly more motivated. We can work on practice questions, I can draw diagrams and examples, we can colour-code with markers and then just wipe it all away!
I have a class set of these flexible ones – blank on one side, a cartesian plane on the other. I love them!
These dry erase pockets are also a great option. You slip in any paper you want and students can write over top. I don’t find them quite as durable as the whiteboards though…
Don’t forget to grab a good quality set of fine-tip dry-erase markers and a few erasers! I will say, I find cheap markers don’t last long and, most importantly, don’t erase well. However, I find a few microfibre sponges or cloths from the dollar store are fabulous as erasers!
I used to struggle with taking anecdotal notes of students during class. I started keeping a class recording sheet on a clipboard at the front of the class and by my guided groups table. Finally I have anecdotal records come reporting time!
Clipboards are top math teaching supplies for activities too. Taking surveys, scavenger hunts, working in groups, gallery walks… Students are able to clip their work to a clipboard to easily and be able to write legibly on the move.
Want to be next level? Check out these dry-erase clipboards!
Chart Paper and Markers
Chart paper and markers are must have math resources for teachers who want to encourage collaboration and problem solving. Students work in groups to solve problems on chart paper (or at least large sheets of paper). They need lots of room to show their thinking, make mistakes and try new strategies.
Having math work displayed on large paper is also important for consolidation. It is much easier to see each others’ work and discuss the math when it is larger. And, of course, don’t forget about anchor charts.
No classroom supplies list is complete without sticky notes, but how do I use them in math? Students add feedback to their peers’ work during Gallery Walks, add numbers to a large number line, put notes in student workbooks… Personally, I like colourful notes but classic yellow works too!
You can also print on sticky notes which can make for quick and easy cartesian planes, graphs and more. Here’s a quick tutorial!
Aside from planned games and practice tasks, having sets of flashcards handy is perfect for that extra 5 minutes at the end of class. Just grab them and play a class game of Around the World. Have students answer a question correctly to be dismissed.
This flashcard package includes a set for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Answers are on the back, making them perfect for self-checking group games or independent practice.
This is definitely a splurge item (perfect if your school gives you a bit of spending money for the year) but it is so useful during math lessons!
Having a document camera allows you to display a model or diagram to the class without awkwardly trying to hold it up – and inevitably dropping it – or students complaining it’s too small to see. It was the most valuable math tool I had during virtual learning but it is super helpful in class too.
Math Classroom Must Haves
Regardless of how you teach math or what type of class you have, there are some math resources for teachers that you just need.
Whether it’s measuring something or simply drawing a straight line, a class set of rulers is a top math classroom supply that gets used daily. I prefer plastic for their durability and slight flexibility. These transparent rulers are perfect as it lets students see the shape underneath the ruler for increased accuracy.
Just don’t forget to set up clear expectations – we all know what can happen with flexible rulers in the hands of middle school students…
There are lots of games (and, of course, teaching probability) that require the use of dice. Having a set of ‘fancy’ dice increases the options for differentiating and extending the learning.
I picked up some extra large foam dice at a dollar store years ago and they are still a favourite. In whole class activities, I can roll the dice and everyone can easily see the numbers which I love. But they really earn their keep in math centres and independent tasks as we don’t all have to listen to the sound of dice banging on desks and falling on the floor!
Having a few sets of playing cards around is handy for so many reasons. They don’t even have to be full sets! I used to have a bin filled with random cards. Students could grab a handful and play Salute, War, or any other math game easily. This is perfect for early finishers, indoor recesses or just extra practice.
You probably already have a few sets lying around but they’re pretty inexpensive to pick up if not.
Must Have Math Manipulatives
I hope your school already has these purchased for each classroom and you don’t need to spend your hard-earned money on any of these. Sometimes, however, they may be hidden away in a storage closet making them easy to forget about!
One of the absolute must have math manipulatives is Base Ten blocks. These allow for a visual representation of place value of both whole numbers and decimals. They can also be used to model and solve operations problems. This is one item that I really hope your school has already purchased for classrooms!
Magnetic shape blocks are such a great way to work with 2D shapes, 3D figures and visualizing nets.
Magformers are great for all ages too. I bought a set for my 3-year-old nephew and he loves to play with them. My middle schoolers loved them just as much and were still able to use them as a learning tool.
Pattern Blocks are another math manipulative that is very useful, even in upper elementary. Obviously, they can be used to make patterns but I have students use them when learning area and perimeter, fractions, geometry, symmetry and more.
Another math manipulative that gets used almost daily in my classroom. Unifix cubes are a great tool for accommodations for students but can be used for measurement, patterns, algebra among other concepts.
What are your must have math teacher supplies? What items do you find super helpful, or that you’re constantly reaching for? Share in the comments below!