Managing Manipulatives

Secrets for keeping track of them in the High School

Questions about your room...

You need to think about how your classroom is arranged.
  • Are students free to move around?
  • Do you want to spend time distributing the materials?
  • Do you want to spend time counting and collecting materials?
  • Are the materials small or very large?
  • Where are they stored when not in use?
  • Are the materials expensive or difficult to replace?

Student Supply Center

Cabinet (prefered) or Shelves

Personally, I prefer students to distribute, count and/or collect the small stuff - markers, colored pencils, rulers, scissor, etc.

For markers and colored pencils, I have a shoe box set up with compartments for different colors. When students need to use them, the box is set out and one member from each group selects amount and colors needed.

Each group or table is assigned a "box" that contains the following: rulers, compasses, and protractors. They are responsible for them and if something is broken or missing, they report it right away. (I know which group used it last so I know to whom I need to speak!)

I also have a place where the stapler, pencil sharpener, and 3-hole punch are located. Students are responsible for making sure items are replaced as I do not "clean up after them"!

I will visually scan the room for "misplaced items" and have the group nearest, put the items away. All are dismissed when the supplies are correctly stored.

Expensive or Unsual Items

Calculators and iPads

Expensive items, like calculators and iPads, are numbered and each student is responsible for that item. This is not dependent upon the seating chart like the "boxes". To check an item out, they must leave their student ID and sign out the equipment. At the end of the period, I check for missing equipment and ID that have been left behind.