I love Sundays when they are not tainted with the Sunday Night Blues.  It just makes for a much better day.  

I decided I could finally begin tackling my school to-do list.  Except I still can't find it.  And, if I could, the following project wasn't on the list.  I know.  

But I started it.  And now I don't want to finish it.

See, the thing is . . . we use enVision math.  

The program either came with math manipulatives or we bought them.  I don't know which.  However you look at it, I have math manipulatives.  I know.  I'm a lucky girl.

We got counters, clocks, pattern blocks, money, tens and ones, etc. etc. etc.  And we got cubes.

The biggest problem I faced with my supplies was that they came in a huge ziplock bag - one for each kid.  Each bag contained all of the manipulatives each student would need.  It made complete sense to me.  Give the first grader their bag at the beginning of the year and tell them not to touch the tens and ones.  Or the money.  Or the clocks.  Because that's second and third trimester.  Don't touch it.  Don't lose it.  Hang on to it, though, because I only have this many and there's no more where that came from. 

Uh, yeah.  Not happening.  I couldn't do it.

I have what my therapist (aka chocolate and wine) likes to call "control issues". 

So I dismantled all of the bags.   

And I bought tubs.

And I made 2x4 labels.

Of course.Math Manipulatives Labels

And I organized all the cubes together, all the counters together, and so on.  And when we need those supplies, I get out the tub and we use them.  And when the lesson or unit is over, I collect it.  It has nothing to do with germs.  Or vomit.  That only happened once.  Yes.  For real.  ALL OVER some manipulative money.  And the desk.  And the chair.  And himself.  And the little girl across from him.  I was quick.  I got out of the way.  Every man for himself, I always say.

Anywho, this whole manipulatives-in-tubs thing really works for me.  

Except the cubes.

The cubes have bothered me since day one.

Here's why:

It's not usually that messy.  I've been messing with it which has made it messier.

But do you see those packs?  Each pack has 20 cubes.  

And they're all different colors.  DIFFERENT colors.  That, my friends, is called a CUBE CRISIS.

Because almost every lesson says to divide your cubes into TWO color trains.  TWO.  That's hard enough for my kids who can't even get the cubes OUT OF THEIR BAG.  True story.  And it's even harder for my kids who can't get the cubes UNSNAPPED from each other.  True that.  And now, once we've gotten through both of those hurdles and built guns (Stop that.  That's not appropriate at school.) and made houses (Yes, I love it.) and created a dog (That is so cute.), now we have to make TWO color trains.  

That's a little impossible to do when each bag that came with the program (Not that it's the program's fault - I'm just pointing out that I didn't do it this way because I am, in fact, a TEACHER and not a textbook writer or creator or what-have-you.) has four of this color, three of that color, two of another color, six of that color, etc.  

And, no, we can't share.  Or trade.  Or fix it.  Because she was USING that color to make the dog's nose!  And because he NEEDED that color to make the gun trigger!  And she HAD TO HAVE that color for the door of her house.  (Don't be alarmed.  All of those examples have something to do with math.  It's higher level thinking and all that.  I'll explain it to you in a different post.  Sometime down the road.  In the far future.  If I remember.)

Do you see where I'm going with this?


This is what I started.

I'm sorting cubes.  Unsnapping.  Snapping.  Two colors per bag.

I will not go into the agony and stress I feel over choosing the two colors that should go together.  Red and black?  Red and yellow?  Orange and green?  Brown and . . . what?  WHAT? WHAT?!

Ugh.  What was I thinking?  I have 27 more bags to go.  And I don't even want to think about what will happen if I run out of a color to make a complete bag . . . It's a nail biter, people.


  1. LOL!
    We use envision also. I teach third grade and the bags killed me too. So, I did the same thing! I bought plastic shoe box containers from the dollar store and sorted my manipulatives. That way if we need fraction strips, I just grab the plastic container and pass them out.
    I may have to grab your labels!
    :D Angie

  2. Oh, Lord, honey...you are better than me. I detest those little bags! They had to GO! I detest enUNVision as well but that's not what your post is about, right? LOL

    I put all those cubes in towers of 10 by color and keep them in a rubbermaid container. I just snap them quickly in half and pass them out when I need them.

    Thanks for keeping us laughing!

    Strive to Sparkle

  3. I put my cubes into sticks of ten of the same color and then put them into a plastic tub. They're easy to pass out when we need them!

    Color combinations are a big deal in my class, especially yellow and green. My school isn't far from the border of Wisconsin and Illinois, and all of my students HATE the Packers..... I heard about it every day during football season, and if anyone colors anything with yellow or green, the entire class loses it.

    Love you, summer break!! :)

    Marvelous Multiagers!

  4. We have Envision math and I had to sort them all by color too. It made me so much happier when I was doing math and they weren't arguing over who had what color.

    Swimming into Second

  5. I hate hooking those cubes together.. and pulling them apart! I would not be very good at this summer project...

    I would however made it into a contest to see which kid could earn the priveledge of doing this for me.. that's what I do for all the jobs I don't really want to do myself!

    I would fret over which two colors go best together!

    But, it's summer and I really don't fret over much :o)

  6. I have those bags of manipulatives that came with Envision also. For some reason it is the exact same manipulatives that came with our old Math series. I've forgotten what it was but they had plastic containers for all of them. However, we were given 10 red and 10 blue cubes. I'm still using those and those multi colored ones from Envision are still in the little plastic bags--completely germ free forever I guess!

  7. Oh Kristin - I would do everything you just did. And whine about it. And not be as funny as you are. Well, maybe a little bit funny, but not as funny as you. Thanks for the labels. We don't have enVision math, but I do have most of those manipulatives!!

  8. We use envision too and I do not like those cubes! They are too hard for my little kinders to get apart and they make guns way too easily! I happened to of had a lot of unifix cubes so I use those instead. I feel your pain!
    What I Learned in Kindergarten

  9. Kristin, you should not be thinking so hard during your summer vacation!

    If you need a FREE pocket chart with number cards, I am giving one away--please check it out!

    Mrs. Bremer’s Kindergarten

  10. Brown and Pink!

    Just reading the paragraph about sharing and using and trading and fixing made my heart beat faster. I am not ready to go back. Did I say that outloud?

    (Hop over to my vacation giveaway--I'm leaving town on a jet plane!)

  11. Trust me, EnVision is my own personal nightmare most days!!
    First Grade Blue SKies

  12. Dude! I may as well have written this post myself! Those cubes make me dikkilous! I find them everywhere in the room! Aargh!
    Good luck with the 2 color thing-I'll have to try that myself, but not for about 5 more weeks! :)
    Kerri b

  13. Wow...I didn't realize how many people who have Envision detest it just as much as I do. It took me forever to take apart all those teeny tiny bags from the manipulatives. I did keep the bags though from some of them...they seemed pretty sturdy so I use them so store pocket chart games and other smaller games. As for the cubes, I do what many others have mentioned---have them in stacks of ten. Makes it easy since most activities for Kdg require ten and they know they need to have ten to turn back into me when we are finished...you know how those cubes end up on the floor and get lost!

  14. and you know they will argue about what colors they get...too bad you and another teacher could not trade colors and just have two different ones. Oh the joys of manipulatives!

  15. Need to be doing this myself! Good luck finding your school list...

    tattling to the teacher

  16. I have enVision math! It came with a ll the manipulative sin little baggies. I, like you, had to sort them all individually! I put mine in drawers and it is so easy to handle now :)

    Sweet Seconds

  17. Oh no! You poor thing. I think it would do my head in too :)
    Teachable Moments

  18. Ugh! We have envision too and it is killer. We just started it this past year and to make it even better I was home on maternity leave with my twins so a sub started math! And received my math manipulatives...it was a HUGE mess!!!!! Still is actually! I don't even want to think about how much time I am going to have to spend organizing them at the begining of the year! Good luck with your cubes!
    Lisen :)

  19. HA! Loved this post - those bags drive me crazy! I fretted over them and the pieces the first year (cubes came out right away though-useless) this year I took out and sorted most items that don't get used as often. But I keep buying different bins to put the stuff away. now that drives me crazy too because I want my bins to match. arggh. I use my old cubes that get stored in "ten towers". The old ones are much easier to connect. It's easier for me to pass out and collect the ten towers (good for their counting too). I seem to gravitate back to my old "Pair-share" math bags. They are similar, but with a mesh bag and hold enough to play a game together and they just have the stuff I use most often. dice, counters, spinner and cards. Good luck

  20. I just keep one tub with ten sticks or trains of ten cubes. When a lesson calls for trains of ten, I just give each student 2 trains of ten or however many trains they need. I have another tub of cubes that are all mixed up for other activities.

  21. Oh my goodness! You sound just like me. I couldn't handle the different colors in the bags so I told my principal that I didn't need the cubes, because I had some already. She knows how I am so she let me put them back in the supply closet. I haven't thought twice about wanting them back. :)

  22. Golly, this brings me back to my childhood when I sorted my Halloween candy--and everyone else's in the neighborhood who would let me...

    And the last time I helped a colleague (Actually, I think she left me to do this while she did something more "complicated"), I grouped the colors the same way!

    Mind you, we don't have EnVision math in sixth grade...

    Sending you warm thoughts for Happy Sorting!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

  23. I'm glad I'm not the only one who isn't crazy about (and that's putting it nicely) enVision... Sigh...

  24. Red and blue toss the rest!

    First Grade @ Klinger Cafe

  25. Those cubes with the holes on all sides are the worst. They are stinkin hard to connect and pull apart! I had old unifix cubes that I went back to. I also just group them by color in stacks of ten and throw em in a tub. Actually I made my super student helpers do it during inside recess one day...they loved it! :) we use everyday math btw. Happy sorting!

  26. I did the same thing except I had the kids do it. They thought it was fun whereas me, not so much!
    AT my math training they wanted us to give the huge bag so the kids could use whatever manipulative they thought appropriate. Yea, that is SO not happening! I'm WAY too much of a control freak, just like you. :-)
    Finally in First

  27. ROFL laughing june 24 and 21 post!

  28. Fingers crossed that you don't run out of any one color!! It would drive me nuts, too!
    A Cupcake for the Teacher

  29. Nothing is funnier than the truth! Great post! I am an enVision-using-manipulative-separating teacher, too!

  30. Harcourt Math did the same things with their manipulatives. A baggie per kid... "don't touch it...don't lose it". I spent forever separating everything. The cubes I put into my "math tubs" which is where all the Legos, blocks, puzzles and math games are. I like your sorted baggie idea. But I'm NOT going to school to copy it. :D It will have to wait until August.

  31. oh God! I am glad I am not the only anal one around! I actually DO keep mine in the student bags. They don't mess. Probably because I am so scary. And guess what? Each kid gets 5 of 5 colors. Peeps at Math Expressions are really on top of things!

  32. Oh the life of using manipulatives! They are supposed to be so easy.... yet at times its just "one extra thing" that we have to do/worry about. I'm glad you figured out a system that works for your though!

  33. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I LOVE reading your posts. I can relate to everything that you say. And I have the UPMOST respect for you teaching 30 kids! When you find your list be sure to write this task down so that you can have the satisfaction of crossing it off!

  34. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I LOVE reading your posts. I can relate to everything that you say. And I have the UPMOST respect for you teaching 30 kids! When you find your list be sure to write this task down so that you can have the satisfaction of crossing it off!

  35. I give you credit for having READ the book to find out what they are going to do with those cubes!!!! You Go Girl!
    The last time they gave us a new math series, we wound up with four math manipulative kinder kits at our school with five K classes. Guess what I did? I BEGGED them NOT to order me those supplies! It's true: I already owned ALL of them, except for multilink cubes, and I told them I would borrow them if I couldn't substitute unifix cubes for the multilinks instead. Phew! Thank goodness they listened! I don't know where in the world I would have put all of that new stuff!
    Heidi Butkus

    Heidi Butkus

  36. You always crack me up when you talk about math manipulatives. We use EnVision but I don't think I have seen the cubes??!!???? Hmmmm, I wonder where in my classroom did I shove them???!!???

    Heather's Heart

  37. Yes I have those high aspirations frequently and then decide that perhaps I'd rather be doing something else! LOL!

    Such cute labels! What font did you use? Thanks once again for your fun and sharing!

  38. I used enVision at my old school and had that same problem, so I did what you did. My life was much better afterward. I just finished reorganizing my manipulatives in the same way that you did. Everything is in it's own tub because I would never give out that bag.

    Success in Second Grade

  39. What a NICE way to spend part of my summer break from school- following your blog! You are truly a funny gal, and I love reading your posts :) We don't have EnVisions Math at school- we as a group voted them down as our new series of choice, and took Real Math instead- they had those individual student bags in the big storage cases for each teacher to use for housing everything- I think there are still a few teachers at our school with the cases, maybe for fear of getting rid of something valuable? And about those lovely cubes you have... somehow I got "blessed" with one shoe size bucket of them, and I finally passed them on to our freebie table in the teacher's lounge. I agree, they are a pain in the patootie to pull apart. Keep up the great work!!!

  40. We also use enVision....as a supplment to our Investigations program. But we didn't get the cubes and manipulatives WITH ours...we had to round them up on our own. I tried to leave the cubes alone the first year...every man for himself so you say...and found they spent the entire math time sorting them. Great! They can sort! But NOT the lesson/concept I was teaching. Then I got the bright idea to put a kid in charge of it...my little mother hen put them in sticks of 10, already snapped together, and when they need 20, they grab two sticks! She's in charge of keeping it that way...and luckily she's as OCD as I am and did a great job. Now I have to call her mom and let her know I will need to retain her next year so she can be my cube person again!

  41. Kristen, perhaps it will help if you continue sorting with your therapist ;-)
    As always thanks for keeping us laughing!

  42. Look at your getting all organized!!! I looove it! ;)

  43. Thanks for the laugh today! You are so hilarious. I love your therapist! My therapist is chocolate. M & M's are called my "happy pills". All my firsties have to spell chocolate before leaving first grade (they all do it!). They get a full sized chocolate bar when they accomplish this feat! Please keep writing this summer- I need my daily fix!

  44. I don't have Envision math (we're HM math) but got the manipulatives too: I have them in tubs too and it works for me: I love your little labels. Thanks so much for sharing! How about brown and blue? :) Lisa

  45. Hi! I gave you and award! Come to my blog to pick it up!! Thank you for sharing such great ideas!!
    Krazy Kindergarten Teacher

  46. I also have enVision, but I do not have the manipulatives. I had to borrow a tub of cubes (indefinitely) from the kindergarten room. I use the shoe box size tubs as well. What worked for me last year:
    --stack cubes by single color in a link of ten
    --give any leftovers that don't fit in a group of ten back to the kindergarten tub
    --teach students to always stack them by color and by tens
    I teach a combined 1st/2nd class and it's worked well with both grades!

  47. I think all first grade classrooms experience the same things. I did, however, have my class make trains of tens by color at the end of the year. It was a "reward"! They loved it and will never know they were doing my job and making life easier for me.

  48. Black and brown!

    We use envision, and have for the last 3 or so years. This is the FIRST SUMMER I've reorganized and ditched (well, squirreled away) the many many MANY plastic bags.

    I just never let them have their own kit. I'd bring out my old skool manipulatives. Can you say wooden pattern blocks?

  49. I'm your newest follower! Great blog! Thanks for the great ideas. I am a new blogger so I am excited to read more of yours.

    Fancy Free in Fourth

  50. As a new teacher, let me say THANK YOU for your awesome blog! I'm new to all this and I'm having a lot of fun finding great things for my classroom. Thank goodness somebody else out there is creative and willing to share, because I sure can't do it. Happy blogiversary!


  51. LOL! HA! Like seriously, I really and truly DID start laughing when I got to the end of your post and saw the color matched bags!!! You are CRACKING me up. That is just awesome. HA. Seriously, I love you.

    Now, for the sad part: we adopted Envision a few years ago but were not given any manipulatives. *GASP* I know. It's shocking isn't it? That teachers would be expected to teach something but not be given what they need in order to teach it? Good times. But then we were told we had to teach Investigations instead. Which is the SUPPLEMENT to Envision by the same company. I say supplement to assure you that no, it does not cover all the standards we are supposed to teach. Good times! Wait, I didn't mean to write a dissertation-ey comment. Sorry!! :D

  52. This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away free. I love seeing website that understands the value of providing a quality resource for free. It’s the old what goes around comes around routine.
    Pre School Education In India - Little Millennium