staying organized math routines

Our First Grade Math Routine

What’s your favorite subject to teach?  Just wondering before we jump into our Great Ideas for a Fun-Filled First Grade Math Routine.  For me, it was ALWAYS Guided Reading.  I loved the interaction and small group instruction UNTIL we started a new math curriculum.


The first year was tough – no lie!  For someone who already found math not to be my favorite part of the day, our new math curriculum pushed me to a whole new UGHHH level that first year.  I struggled… the students struggled… my co-workers struggled.

But after the first year was well underway, something changed.  I started to see those light bulb moments daily.  Honestly… for me and my students.  I was teaching math a totally different way.  Number bonds – “what’s that?”  Make a Ten – “make a what??” Pull from Ten… “Wait… what am I doing?”   Believe me – the first year was hard for a 30 something year old teacher who learned math, but didn’t understand the thinking behind it.  Our new curriculum gave me the WHY!  So I’d love to explain how it works for us!


These work BEST with PPT, but you can also use as a Google Slide – it’s just the animation is better in PPT.


the “meat” of the lesson (whole group instruction)

When we switched curriculums many years ago, we went from a pretty simple manual, to a script version.  It was a huge change for us, so I spent countless hours creating PPTs that help me teach the concepts.  I changed things because of copyright, but they still worked for us.  These daily slides walk us through building fluency, an application problem, and concept development – all digitally making it easy to explain and it keeps the students engaged.

Check out the video to see how they work.  The slideshow just guides you through the process – you’re still teaching, but it just helps you show the students certain things without having to use time finding the materials.

During this time, students are all on the carpet sitting with their white board (in this example).  There are times when they will go back to their seats, work on certain things, and then come back to discuss as well.

I love these sets. Makes prepping for math a thousand times easier and helps keep my kids engaged in the lessons.


I have to say that this is one of the BEST purchases that I have made on TpT!!! Every lesson is engaging and rigorous. I have thoroughly enjoyed using this product, and my students have enjoyed it as well. They have done well and have really liked the variety of fluency exercises that are provided but are not necessarily included with the curriculum. Thank you so much for making this awesome product! 


Amazing! So easy to pull up the powerpoint daily. It is super engaging with the colors, pictures, and questions. Makes teaching math 10x’s easier.


This resource was a great way to demonstrate the math concepts, visually. The amount of time needed to go through the slide shows was just right. There was a nice mix of demonstration problems and opportunities for the children to be actively involved.


Problem Set (independent instruction or small groups)

The lessons usually take about 45 minutes, and then students go back to their seats and work independently on their problem set.  As they are working, I’m walking around the classroom assisting students.

About ten minutes in, I sit at my guided “reading”/math table and students line up with their problem set for me to check.  If they got them all correct, they can go on to their exit ticket.  If they are having trouble, I do a few different things:

  • My student teacher grabs a few students and works on the problem set with them
  • I ask a student who mastered the skill to help
  • I pull them aside and we work at the guided “reading”/math table together

Exit Ticket (independent instruction)

Once students finish their problem set, they move on to the exit ticket.  Our curriculum has all of this done for you.

Organization of our First Grade Math Routine

I’m sure every district is different on how these are printed for you.  Our district had them printed in a book by module.  Now – I typically don’t make anything easy on the front end, because that’s just who I am – but I usually I find ways to make it easier for my students and parents.

  • We took the book and tore out the sheets by lesson (along with exit ticket and homework)
  • I stapled the problem set and exit ticket together
  • I stapled the homework together
  • Each lesson was placed in a folder so that all I had to do was grab the problem set during math and grab the homework sheets at the end of the day.
  • Yes – this took some prep time… yep -I did it at home – but for me, it was worth it.  We weren’t flipping books to find the page, students weren’t bringing the entire book home for homework and leaving it accidentally… it just made my life easier.
staying organized math routines


Here are some small 9×12 double-sided boards that work great! (Coming from the teacher who bought a shower board and had Home Depot cut it into 12×12 boards, then I taped the edges with electric tape… a gazillion years ago – TRUE STORY!  These are so much better and honestly cheaper!) Affliliate link…

What happens next with our First Grade Math Routine?  Glad you asked!

Now… this didn’t happen right away.  I was always struggling with the students who finished early.  But eventually I figured out a way to keep them engaged (read about that here).  My Early Finishers were born out of necessity – and oh, I’m so grateful that I figured this out.  Click here to read how they came to be!

NO PREP Early finisher

So with my Early Finishers – students grab a white board or the work mat I created once they are finished with the exit ticket and the exit ticket has been checked by me.  They sit on the carpet / or at their desk and work on the video that I have projected on our ActivBoard.  Each Early finisher focuses on one of the skills taught for that day.  No more hodge podge of meaningless activities for them – these are relevant, engaging, fun, and NO PREP!  My life was forever changed!

You can LOOP the video, which will give your students tons of practice, and also allows for students to jump in at any time since everyone is finishing their exit tickets at different times.

One problem – though!

Of course nothing is perfect (at least not for me).  I had one problem – some of my students were never able to get to the early finisher activity.  So I created QR Code cards to fix that problem.  If they weren’t able to get to the early finisher, they could grab the QR Code card during centers and work through the google slideshow at their own pace.  WIN WIN!  I also send those cards home on occasion if students need more practice.

Extra practice for worksheets

Even though I love our curriculum, I did find that the worksheets weren’t enough.  I ended up creating more student friendly worksheets to go with each lesson giving my students more practice.  I would use these as:

  • Seat work
  • Homework
  • Extra math assessments
  • Parent requests for more work

Math worksheets that are student friendly

I have these broken up into topics and lessons.  There are tons of concepts and lots of practice per concept.  These are a true lifesaver!  See what others have to say about these. 🙂

These packs are literally my life saver! So helpful to send home as homework for practice, without having to spend time explaining to parents or printing out homework helper packets. I know my students are still practicing the essential skill in a straightforward way that all can understand! Thank you!!

TPT Purchaser

I LOVE these worksheets! I rarely take the time to review a product, but these sheets are perfect! These sheets take the skills and transform them into user friendly practice sheets that are able to be done independently while totally reinforcing the same skills taught. I LOVE them!! Plus, there is more than one per lesson so I can use one for seat work and one for homework! LOVE!!

TPT Purchaser


My motto has ALWAYS been “Don’t forget to have fun!” I absolutely love games, from card games to board games – I’m a game junkie!  So of course I made games to match as many lessons as I possibly could.  I started out with printable ones (because that was WAY before we had devices in the classroom) and then slowly moved towards a mixture of digital and printable so that I could have options.

Printable – students take out the task cards, grab the game board and spinner and start playing (up to 4 players).  They grab a task card, answer the question, if they get it correct – they spin and move their person.  There’s an answer doc for someone else to check their answer.

Digital – students scan the QR code, the task cards pop up one at a time.  They write their answers on the answer sheet provided.  They can either turn these answers in, or they can check it with the QR code answer guide.  You can also use the digital cards with the game board and spinner.  WHAT??  This way you don’t have to worry about storing the cards.

Amazon FINDS!! (Affiliate Links!)

Looking for a home laminator?  I have this one from Amazon (affiliate link). We also have one at school, but when I’m prepping centers, sometimes it’s just easier to do everything at home!

I also have a paper cutter (A MUST HAVE!!!) I actually have one in my classroom and one at home.  Seriously… I would not be able to have as many centers as I do without this… makes everything easier! I bought a cheaper slider version and HATED it… this is my favorite one!  Has lasted 10 plus years!!

Here are the bins I use to hold my task cards… believe me when I say… I’ve tried EVERYTHING!  These have worked the best for me.


Did this First Grade Math Routine info help?  What curriculum do you use?  Would you like to try a few of my resources for free?  If so – sign up below.

Let me know in the comments if this was helpful and what else you’d like to know about.


Shanon Juneau

We Are Better Together | ELEMENTARY HUB CLUB

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