A Peek at My Grade 1 Math Block

When I first started teaching math, way back in 2012, to be honest, I didn’t know WHAT to do. We “did” math (it had a nice 60 minute block in my day), but now I know that I was not giving my students enough hands-on practice or really teaching math well at all during my grade 1 math block.

All I remembered from my own school experience were worksheets, haha!

I was provided an optional curriculum, which I attempted a few times, but… truth be told, the lessons suggested by my board resulted in PURE CHAOS.

I remember one about having six students pretend to be puppies to teach the number six. Unfortunately, I lost my students for the REST OF THE DAY!

Eventually, I learned about the math workshop model – and I fell in love! Now, math is one of my favourite subjects to teach. Here’s a peek at what my grade 1 math block looks like this year (with grade ones and a perfect one hour long block).

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Warm up

I love routine, so we always start our math block in the same way.

First – counting videos. My students don’t hear numbers to 100 in French very often, and they are TRICKY! I start playing Alain Le Lait Les chiffres videos 1-100 as my students come in from the cafeteria.

They grab their supply boxes and their math journals on their way in, then join in singing with the videos. This way, we are all ready to begin at the same time… but there is no “dead time” while we wait for our slower students.

Math journals (7-10 minutes)

We do a math journal entry every day! I print out the month’s worth of prompts at the beginning of the month, then choose one for spiral review each day. You can read all about my math journal routine HERE, and grab a free sample at the end of this post.

Grade 1 Math Block

Fluency (5 minutes)

Next, we come to the tapis and work on our math fluency. We do this using the math flash cards I have for a variety of concepts (number recognition, subitizing, shapes, etc.).

I might also do Boom Cards (Yvette Rossignol has some great ones for subitizing). We also practice counting forwards and backwards as a group between two numbers, counting by 2s, 5s, 10s, etc.

I might also give each student a number card and they have to put themselves in order without speaking (forwards or backwards).

Whole-Group Mini Lesson (7-10 minutes)

This is when I teach a new concept. I also teach them a game or partner activity that reinforces that concept.

My lessons are created to directly align with my curriculum standards here in Nova Scotia. I work on concepts in “units” that usually span a couple of weeks.

Partner Practice (10-15 minutes)

My students work with partners at this time. They practice the concept that I taught via a game or activity. There is also a big focus on oral communication here; I teach them vocabulary + sentence stems in the mini lesson and expect to hear them during the practice. 

I love practicing this way because EVERYONE gets to practice; not just students who raise their hands! I also get to circulate and hear/supervise their practice.

Here are some students practicing sorting by colour.

Independent Practice (5 minutes)

Now, my students get to show me what they learned and what they can do on their own. This is usually a worksheet or interactive notebook activity where they can show me what they learned from the lesson. It also helps reinforce the concept in another way.

I often add numeral formation practice to the top or bottom of my worksheets as well – even in grade one, we still really need it!

Grade 1 Math Block

Free Math Play and One Small Group (remaining time)

I would love to pull multiple small groups each day, but it just doesn’t really work out with our schedule.

One is better than none!

As students finish up their sheets, they may play with “math toys” (blocks, tangrams, pattern blocks, geoboards, etc.) at their table until our math block is over.

During that time, I pull a group of four students each day. I have four groups for working on number sense (grouped by ability) and one group just for numeral formation practice. Typically, I don’t always have that, but this year I have some students who REALLY struggle with number formation and need some extra targeted practice.

I assume that this won’t be needed all year and I’ll be able to see my lowest group twice a week after a few weeks.

These groups work on number sense, as I said – wherever in that domain they need extra support (ex. decomposing numbers, counting strategies, place value, etc.).

I use my Small Group Math Numbers 1-10 unit, and am working on a unit for numbers 11-30 as we go (hopefully it’ll be completed sooner rather than later!).


There are many ways to fill your grade 1 math block effectively – this is just my favourite way and the one that works best for me!

It doesn’t always work out every year that I have an uninterrupted hour (depends on our schedule), but I LOVE when I do – it’s really my “ideal.” I love that my math block includes spiral review, fluency, a lesson, hands-on practice, and some small group work.

It moves quickly, but my students are engaged and learning and that’s how I like it!

I have a few math workshop units in my store, but not as many as I would like. You can see the three I do have below:

Don’t forget – you can also grab a FREE sample of my math journals by clicking HERE and adding your name & email!

I’ve also got a free sample of my small group math lessons, HERE.

Happy math teaching!

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