How I master math intervention



I absolutely love teaching math. Normally, if you show how much you love a certain something in a classroom, your students will lean towards liking that certain thing as well.

For instance, if you rave on and on about a certain book, most kids will want to read it. The same is true about small groups. I love telling my kids that I cannot wait for ‘our time’ together. They know that I do not allow anyone to interrupt us. Our time at the table is sacred. This is the FIRST step in mastering your intervention time. Make sure to use their time to the fullest. Do not let the other kids approach your area.

My kids know that we set a timer and they work quietly the entire time while I am working with my group. This group changes weekly dependent on what we are focusing on or who needs a little extra practice with me. I usually only spend about 15-20 minutes with a group in math intervention since I seriously have zero extra minutes during math. If possible, I pull two groups for 15 minutes. These groups usually have 5 kids each… or less if it’s a good year.

My Math Intervention Binder

A few years ago, I got rid of ALL of the binders in my classroom. I had one for every subject and every month. They took up TOO much space. I’m all digital now EXCEPT for my math intervention binder. It sits on a shelf right behind my table and is so easy to just pull out. It is FULL of page protectors and pencil pouches. I can easily slide materials into a page protector and just pull out as many as I need. Then, I quickly put them back in.

Inside of the binder, I have things like my number cards, different ten frame cards, number bond cards, number formations cards and so on. I keep it all in one place because I’m really good about putting a few cards here and then stacking them with something else… then that stack gets moved and guess what? I’ve lost some cards. I keep the binder out on the table during math intervention and when the last group is cleaning up, I clean up my table and put everything back. And I haven’t misplaced anything.

The yellow sheet in the picture above is our counting page. This helps us practice moving left to right and sliding down and back all the way to the left. I say “Let’s start at the Star and stop at the apple.” Then, we practice moving/jumping numbers. The numbers 11-20 are on the back when we are ready for those numbers. I also use this page to check number identification. I’ll just say, “Show me 5” and they have to point to 5 quickly.

Kids Math Baggie
I should have a better name for this, but I don’t. All of my kids have a pencil pouch that they store in their storage bins. We don’t have desks so this is where they store their things. Inside of their pencil pouch is connecting cubes, counters, seasonal manipulatives and so on. They have at least 10 of each depending on what we’ve used it for. This SAVES SO MUCH TIME! When we’re working on something either whole group or in small group, they know to grab their math baggie and then I just tell them what to pull out. We don’t waste time passing out materials. I bought and have been handed down a bunch of those colorful $1 pencil pouches from Walmart and use those. I also use the ones pictured above as well.

The Checklists

 Before I even discuss what I do, let’s talk about before school is in session. Usually on Thursday afternoons, I stay at school and prepare for the next week.

We do lesson plans on Thursday, so I know what our plans are. I’ve also taught for 4 days and I’m pretty aware of what the needs of my kiddos are. I pull out my checklist, lesson plans and my notebook. I have this laminated front/back and I use a vis-a-vis marker to write on it. I don’t use a dry erase marker because it wipes off too easily.

I look through my plans and decide what games/skills I’ll be using for Monday and Tuesday. I write down everything that I’ll need including any books, cards, manipulatives – ANYTHING. The back is for Wednesday and Thursday. Sometimes I don’t fill out the back. I’ll wait and see how Monday and Tuesday goes. If my kids got the skill that we worked on, I can move on to something else. If they didn’t get it, I usually stick with that skill for the entire week.

After I have written everything down, I pull everything I need at the same time and lay it out. I sort it in my math drawers behind my table and it’s there for the next week when I need it. I won’t have to get up that morning and pull things. Everything will be in my math intervention drawer and I just pull it out and put it back. On Fridays, I clean out this drawer during school because I usually don’t do math intervention on Friday. This is my assessment day. You can click the image above to be taken to my newsletter. If you’ve already signed up for my newsletter, you should have gotten the checklist in your email along with a ton of other goodies.
This is what my planning sheet looks like for the week. I have a warm-up, focus skill and section for notes. I keep this and use these during RTI and for parent conference references. I’m really bad about note taking so I made sure to add a spot to add notes. Since I see it right there, it’s easier for me to jot down a few things each day. I slide this back in a page protector each day until Friday when I place a new one in for the next week.

What do I do during math intervention? I focus on skills that have not been mastered. I reteach skills that I’ve already taught. In kindergarten, everything is new to them so I’m really only playing catch-up with what I’ve introduced. Here’s a rundown of what I get accomplished during math intervention time.

Number Recognition
I always make sure I hit number recognition during my math intervention time. This doesn’t mean that my students need to know a certain set of numbers or that they don’t know the numbers. From experience, the more that they see a number, they more comfortable they are with that number. I want them to remember how the numbers are formed, the correct name, and so on. If we discuss each of the numbers quickly, but each day, they are more likely to remember them correctly. This will also break bad habits that they’ve learned before I was able to teach them the correct things.

I use different sets of numbers each week. I have numbers that are primary fonts, number cards that look like newspaper print and as the year goes on, I usually make a set of “curly” numbers. I do this to make sure they’ve seen different types of numbers. I know in our classrooms we usually try to make everything look like Zaner Bloser or D’Nealian style fonts, but if they’re not in the classroom and need to recognize a number, will they be able to?

We also practice counting each and every time that we meet during math intervention. Is it always the normal way to count where we start at one and end at ten? Of course not. Sometimes, we don’t always starts at 1. I may begin counting at 4. Sometimes, I may even skip a number in my sequence of counting. This is how I zone in on who actually has the number sequence down. They’ll be able to tell if I skipped a number and then tell me what number I skipped. We usually do this for a minutes. Quick and simple.

Focus Skill
Dependent on our struggles, from the past week or two – I choose a focus skill. Usually, I have two different focus skills. One group does one and the other group does the other. Sometimes, I may have the same focus skills for both groups, but it just depends. Here’s a closer look at a few of the things that I do in my classroom.

A few of these games I use interchangeably as warm-ups and then later as a focus. If we’ve mastered a game and it’s not seasonal, I usually put it in a math workshop for everyone to work on.
A favorite each year is our hidden pieces game. I cut out something, in this case a snowflake, and hide it under a number. If we’re working on teen numbers, I only put out the teen number cards. They have to guess which number the snowflake is under. So simple, yet so much FUN! We love playing these with different themed cards each month.


I try to make everything we do super quick and easy. When practicing measurement, we use a nonstandard form of measurement. They grab their “ruler” and we practice measuring different pictures. Then, pass it to the right and measure your new card. I just say switch and they know to pass their card down. I’ve done this with writing the number and without. It depends on what your group needs to work on.
The counting mats are also a favorite when graphing. I have different cards with the same objects. This way, they think they have the same mats, but there are different numbers of objects. They can’t look at their neighbors and take that answer. We practice graphing together and they also get in some counting fun. This only takes about 5 to 7 minutes of our math intervention time.


Kinder Snaps is the freebie you receive when you initially sign up for my newsletter. It actually comes with some reading fluency mats as well. I pass out a sheet to each of my kiddos and say go. They use a whisper phone to say each of the numbers. With the phone, they’re not as loud as they would be without it. I’m also able to listen to them each independently as they say each number. This is another quick and amazing way to check their number identification and practice fluency at the same time. We stop after each line and discuss numbers that we may have mixed up.


We use these three sets to practice numbers as well. They build a number sandwich, practice writing numbers correctly with the race formation sheets, and we build the number.



You can find some of these games in my Math Intervention packs.

Math Workshops
A question that I always see is “What are the other kids doing?” I’ll be dedicating a blog post strictly for math workshops coming soon. It will explain how my kids rotate, what they’re doing, and how I store materials for student use. A little bit of planning beforehand makes the entire year run smoothly. If you’d like to have the planning sheet, checklist, math intervention binder cover, and the number formation cards – grab your math intervention binder pieces here (number formation, checklist and more) and they’ll be delivered to your email.

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Create quick and easy math intervention plans with this low prep math intervention set. Counting objects, number recognition, cardinality, number sense and more is a huge focus in kindergarten with new counters. Have your math small group toolbox all ready and prepped with minimal effort.

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