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DIY Pocket Folder Toolkit for Small Group Math Instruction

Laminated toolkit made from a pocket folder is perfect for small group math work

If you teach math in small groups, you know how imperative it is to be organized and prepared. With the rest of your students working independently at math centers, time is of the essence and you don’t want to spend it counting out manipulatives or distributing materials. These do-it-yourself toolkits are perfect for keeping your supplies at the ready for passing out. Made out of simple pocket folders (which are so inexpensive at back-to-school time!), these envelope-like kits store manipulatives and a dry erase marker and double as a whiteboard surface.

Make a DIY toolkit for small group math work in kindergarten

By gluing a ten frame to the toolkit prior to laminating, you give your students a surface for practicing and demonstrating a variety of number concepts. At the beginning of the year in kindergarten, these kits are great for practicing simple counting and cardinality concepts (show a number, write the numeral). Later in the year, they can be used with teen numbers (fill the ten frame and place extra counters to the side to develop the beginning place value idea of “a group of ten and some more”). Using two-sided chips or two different styles of counters, these kits can also be used to practice composing and decomposing numbers when beginning addition and subtraction. The ten frame is such a powerful tool!

Read on to see how you can easily create a set of these toolkits to use during your small group math time!

DIT How-To for Math Ten Frame Toolkit

One folder makes two toolkits.

1. Cut a pocket folder in half down the center.
2. Stack the two halves and trim a little of each side (about 1/2 inch, but it doesn’t need to be exact).
3. Use clear packing tape to seal the two sides of the pocket. Use a ruler or some sort of straight edge to make a neat crease for the flap (this will make it easier to fold after laminating).
4. Print out a ten frame (find some here, or make your own using a table in PPT or a word processing program), cut it out, and glue it to the pocket.
5. Laminate the pouch with the flap open. The thick laminate from a home laminator works well for making these envelopes sturdy. Whatever laminator you use, make sure to let it heat up plenty since these are pretty thick. After laminating, trim as needed, but leave enough of an edge to keep the plastic from popping open.
6. Use a craft or utility knife to gently slice the laminate open at the top of the pocket. (Don’t press too hard!)
7. Attach self-adhesive hook and loop closures to the corners. Velcro dots (affiliate link) work really well and don’t gum up your scissors as the tape does! Close the envelope and press the corners together for a bit while the adhesive sets.
8. Stock your toolkit with a dry erase marker, a little square of felt for an eraser, and some counters such as mini-erasers or two-color counters (affiliate link).

Note: When having students use these (or any laminated materials) as a dry erase surface, make sure they erase completely before cleaning up for the session. Otherwise, the surface can be hard to clean completely. In addition, it seems that the black dry erase pens wipe off more easily than other colors and that fresher markers are easier to erase than those that are running low on ink. If these become hard to clean, try using some whiteboard cleaner or some rubbing alcohol to get a fresh, clean surface.

This ten frame toolkit has a dry erase surface for small group practice

These envelopes don’t take up too much space, even when loaded up with supplies. You can keep a small group set in one of those many bins and tubs you picked up over the summer 😉 or even store them in a large zip-top bag.

I hope this tip helps you start your year off in an organized way and takes some of the stress out of small-group planning!

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