What’s in my Math Toolbox?

Kindergarten Cafe

Welcome to Kindergarten Cafe - your home for teaching ideas, activities, and strategies across all content areas! I am Zeba McGibbon and I love creating resources for teachers and sharing my teaching experience with others. Kindergarten Cafe is aimed for kindergarten, but teachers of Preschool-First grade can find resources here for their students! I love to connect with other teachers so please reach out and say hello!

Favorite Blog Posts

5 Steps to Making an Interactive Seesaw Activity

Are you using Seesaw this year or considering it for any hybrid or remote learning? It is a wonderful website and app...

Quick and Easy Movement Breaks for Distance Learning

No matter if you are teaching in a classroom or on a computer, your students will need movement beaks and your normal...

Easy Morning Meeting Greetings and Activities for Digital and Socially Distant Classrooms!

Looking for easy interactive morning meeting greetings and activities that can work on a computer and/or in a socially distanced classroom? I’ve...

2019-20 Favorite #1: Establishing Math Routines and Expectations

As we finish up a school year, and prepare for the next one, I wanted to re-share my top 5 favorite blog...

2019-20 Favorite #2: Teaching the Alphabet

As we finish up a school year, and prepare for the next one, I wanted to re-share my top 5 favorite blog...

The same tools can be used to meet a variety of skills for math small groups or interventions. I keep my math toolbox stocked and ready to go behind my small group table for every kind of math group I might need!

Hands-On Counting Math Teacher Tools

math toolbox with counting cards

Every math toolbox should include a variety of counters. Especially for children working on counting, you want to be able to change up what they are counting so that they can work on the same skill with new objects. I like to have some seasonal objects like ghosts or pumpkins, fall leaves, etc. I also have objects that I know my students are very interested in, like dinosaurs, fairies, unicorns, etc. The target dollar spot has been very helpful for finding these random counters!

math toolbox with counting cards

In my math toolbox, I also have the classic math counters that students use for a wide variety of skills, like unifix cubes (connecting cubes), colored tiles, and two-sided counters. In addition to counters I have a wide variety of counting cards available to use with almost every activity. You just never know when you’ll need some counting cards! I have counting cards with ten frames on them, cards that are blank, cards with just images/ten frames on them (can use for quick images/subitizing as well!) and no numerals, cards 1-10 or 10-20 or 20-100. They are organized and grouped so I can easily grab the counting cards that will help my small group activities.

math toolbox with counting cards

Organizing math teacher tools

math toolbox with math teacher tools

When students are first learning to count, add, and/or subtract, students need some tools to help transition these skills to more abstract and deep understanding. I always have number lines at the ready 1-10, 1-20, and 1-30. Children learn to put counters on the number line to keep their counting organized. They can also use number lines for addition and subtraction by adding counters to them or drawing jump lines (laminating the number lines help with durability and reusing purposes).

My math toolbox also has a variety of empty ten frames  -some single and some double – available to help with counting, adding, subtracting, and overall number-sense. Additionally, assorted cups and bags help to keep counters organized and are used in a variety of games and activities. It’s always good to have some at the ready! You can just take random yogurt or small containers and clean them thoroughly to reuse in this way! The final tool I like to have ready is a counting mat to help children organize sliding their counters from one side to the other as they count. You can learn more about teaching counting or teaching addition/subtraction strategies here.

Other small group tools

math toolbox with math teacher tools

Some other must have teacher math tools at your small group table includes white boards and dry erase markers, as well as dry-erase dice! You can use these dice for any skill. I love to write teen numbers on it that the children are struggling with and then have them do motions to count up to them (like jumping jacks). I also have assorted dice at the ready because you will use them for many types of games and activities. One of the games that can be used for a variety of skills is I Spy. I use it for addition facts, teen number ID, and one more/one less number order skills. I have these boards nearby and at the ready!

Finally, I’ve noticed in the past few years that my students particularly struggled with the difference between 12 and 20. So I printed out these numbers and laminated them so that I have them at the ready. When doing an activity and I see a student struggling with these numbers, I pull out the cards as a simple reminder. Sometimes they just need to see the two numbers together to remember the difference.

math toolbox with counting cards


Having a stocked math toolbox can make all the difference for effective and efficient small group and intervention math instruction. These simple tools can be used for a wide variety of math skills! What’s in your math toolbox? Post it to social media and tag me!



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

related posts


Emma Hayes

There I was in a hot yoga studio with plenty of bright natural light and bending myself into pretzel like positions for the very first time.