Monday, October 20, 2014

Wonder Shelf In Math


I am so inspired when I read Rafranz Davis' article about providing her math students with a shelf of manipulatives and tools that afford them the opportunity to express creative freedom and ask wonder questions.  She calls this shelf a Wonder Shelf and it has been many years in the making. She includes simple household items from the kitchen, toys, blocks and lego pieces, arts and craft items as well as a variety of forms of technology. Read about at,

Her students are able to access this shelf during class and before/after school not only to extend their learning in areas they are studying, but also to reach out and explore other topics. I can only imagine her surprise when she turned on an ipad to find stop motion clay figures demonstrating changes in volume of a cylinder, when this was not even assigned.  A student took it upon themself to create the clay figures and produce the stop motion clip possibly as a way to help them understand the concept being taught in class.  How exciting for a teacher to make this discovery!  Students can surprise us in so many ways when they are given the freedom and space to be creative.  I'm certain this particular student will remember changes in volume of a cylinder for many years to come because the memory of creating the stop motion clip in Ms Davis' class will stick with them forever!

1 comment:

  1. Isn't it amazing what students will do when given a little bit of freedom?! The mind of a child is truly amazing! Manipulatives in the classroom are crucial to encourage exploration and creativity in students while ensuring learning in a concrete way is taking place. Many students require this hands-on time where they can explore abstract concepts in a concrete way. It would certainly take some time to develop a wonder shelf but what an opportunity! I found a list of essential manipulatives for the math classroom including printable, hand made, store bought, etc. Check it out at the following link:
    I hope one day I have a classroom where I can build and grow a wonder shelf of my own to encourage my students to take learning into their own hands.