Sunday, February 21, 2010

Scholastic Math Shoe Box Learning Centers

Recently, a friend and fellow homeschool mom and I got together and made some cool math work for our children.

We took a blackline masters sort of book by Scholastic called Shoe Box Math Learning Centers by Jacqueline Clarke and made it into Montessori style work.

Pictured above is the cover of the Scholastic Shoe Box Math Learning Centers book.
As you can see, the work looks interesting, but is not over the top with being cutesy.
Thank you to author and artist, Jacqueline Clarke, for this.
The activities use many items that you already have in your homeschool or school setting, such as paper clips, clay, Playdough, and math manipulatives.

They turned out nicely but now, we are both grappling with storage for these.
There are approximately 40 activities in the book, and each one is supposed to be stored in a shoebox. What we opted for is to store them in plastic bins as a collective group for our families.
The shoe box sized plastic bins did not successfully hold everything, but I happened to find four cake pan sized bins that seem to work. The plastic bins are only for storage...and we are still not sure that this method will be a good fit...time will tell...

Then, we will just set out a few at a time as we present them as new work on our shelves.
Of course, when we put them out as work, we will have them out on a nice tray, with everything set up as a regular Montessori activity.

Here is a sampling of some of the topics covered in the book. This is from the book's index.

Here is one of the cake pan sized plastic bins that I am using to store these activities.

Will take some photos of how these appear on the shelves in our room.
Here is a photo of one of the activities called Playdough numerals.

Here are the pros and cons of the Scholastic Shoe Box Math Learning Centers book
(Please note...I have not been compensated for reviewing this book of games...just want to give you my two cents...)

The centers follow NCTM standards, which makes it easy when you are trying to keep track of a portfolio for each child in a homeschool setting.
Easy to align them with Montessori math materials.
The activities are interesting and appropriate for a wide range of ages and abilities, so in a multi-age setting, they are perfect.
Multi-sensory, multi-age, multi-level...wonderful activities overall.
They feature more nice, clean, simple line drawings and such that add to overall interest but do not in any way create a distraction from the work itself. Jacqueline Clarke made the centers interesting and the artwork is appealing, but not overpowering.
The centers were fairly easy to make into Montessori inspired work...just had to tweak them so that they could be on a tray and could have a control of error.

The book itself was fairly affordable...only $12.95 new.

Since the illustrations weren't in color, they needed to be colored.
Took several evenings to color all of them.
Since the pages were run back to back, you have to actually make a copy of every single page before you can even start to make them into work.
So, gotta either spend time scanning and printing from your own printer or else you have to go and make copies so that you can actually use the materials.
In order to make them more Montessori inspired, you have to make your own control of error, which involves more time, more coloring, and more copying.

Final Comments:

The work that we were able to make from this book makes the time and effort spent making them into work worthwhile.

Just wish that I would have realized that there was an eBook option for this book, as then, I would not have to deal with storage or copying issues. I did not realize that Scholastic offered an eBook of this great resource until after I had already purchased this blackline masters book.

If you go to the Scholastic website, it will redirect you to a site called and there, lo and behold, is an eBook of what I purchased.
The only thing is that the eBook costs nearly $18.00, so it is a bit more than the paper version of the book, but if you are tight in storage space, the eBook option would be well worth it. But since you would save time and money in not having to make soooo many copies, it may almost be more cost effective to get the eBook version.

Love the contents, just gotta figure out how to store everything now that we have made all of them!

I know that they will be well received by my sons. think that they will love doing these as work. Will see once we get into presenting how they fly off the shelves.

In a classroom setting, I can see that purchasing the blackline book and making all of these up at once could be very cost effective.
Could totally picture making these as a PTA or homeroom mom project, where a group of dedicated parents would ideally each make a handful of games and would donate the items needed for their particular ones. I could even picture a party of sorts where each child presents his or her shoe box center to the class.
It could also be an awesome project for older children who need some volunteer hours to help create these for a classroom or school.
In a classroom setting, you would probably need to have more made at one time.
In a homeschool setting, you really only need more a couple at a time, not forty.

Will post some additional photos and some feedback from my two little guinea pigs:)

1 comment:

Nichole said...

Thank you for the great, thorough review!

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