July 15, 2014

Anchor Charts: Multiplication & Division

I started my morning in the garage. If you remember I had heaps and heaps of school stuff in there from moving EVERYTHING out of my classroom at the end of the year. There was so much that my two car garage didn't even fit one car. I really need to get everything in order.

BUT...It's hot and humid in there. Plus, there are mosquitoes and I loath mosquitoes. Apparently, they do not feel the same way. They love me. So, with deet infused bug spray, a strong fan, and a sense of purpose, I set out this morning to organize my anchor charts.

A couple of my thoughts on anchor charts...

  • They are much more powerful and meaningful when made WITH the students. I know this means they won't always be pretty, but it's important that the kids play a critical role in creating it. If they get sloppy and you just can't take it, then you can always rewrite a cleaner version after school, but as long as you make it with the kids, it has meaning to them. 
  • Simple is  better.  Keep it clean, simple, and easy to read from a distance. Cute doesn't always mean effective. 
  • Set up your anchor chart beforehand. Add the title and designs to the anchor chart before your lesson. Then, add the "meaty" information with the kids.
  • Black marker does not make it boring. Black marker is hands down the easiest to read. I use black constantly. If it is important, it needs to be written in a color that is easy to read. I like black, dark blue, dark, green, and purple. I use the lighter fun colors for my titles and to highlight really important words.
  • Every color does not need to make an appearance on every chart. This goes back to keeping it simple and easy to read. Can you tell it's a big theme of mine?
  • Mr. Sketch markers are the only acceptable markers to use when creating anchor charts. I'm obviously being dramatic here, but they are my absolute favorite markers for anchors. Although, watch out for the light pink. It smells good and it's pretty, but it also fades.  
  • Anchor charts are a valuable teaching tool. If you use them and reference them, the kids will too. However, just like most things, modeling is required. :) 

Several years ago, I saw this great idea about an anchor chart binder. The teacher put a picture of all her anchor charts in a binder for both teacher and student future reference. I thought this was a brilliant way to save wall space and keep a record of all the anchors for the year. While I have never been organized enough to do that, I have taken pictures of a few that I wanted to be sure to repeat the following year. The best part about the picture is that is forces me to recreate it with my students but gives me a goal for how I want things to look and what information I want to include. 

Here are just a few of my charts on multiplication and division from this past year.

This chart stared with only a header and then the model/strategy t-chart. You can see by my imperfect lines that I don't stress out too much about it being perfect. As a class we defined multiplication in the most simple terms and added to our chart as we went through the unit.

This is the division chart to match the multiplication. This was before we got into long division.

I love this one because it shows students the many different ways they could divide basic facts. Many of my students get turned around with the circles and sticks model, so they love seeing the table. The table really helps keep them organized.

This chart was generated after a discussion about the similarities/differences between multiplication and division. All information was student generated.

I took pictures of tons of my math, writing, and reading anchor charts from the last year and then gave the charts the toss. It's all part of my purge, purge, purge plan. 

Do you guys keep your anchor charts year to year?  Which ones do you save?  Any more helpful tips on keeping them pretty while also keeping them student generated?

More pictures to come...


  1. I keep some of the ones that turn out really well, or are somewhat interactive that can be useful year to year (like a story/plot mountain-I use post-its to go through the steps!)

    I also try to block out sections that I know I will draw or do something special-and then work around it! When making a list, I try to do the bullet points a quick little picture-like a heart or star, so it looks interesting but doesn't take up a lot of time to do.

    A fun font always works for the title-the kids love it when I do titles, because they like it when I hand draw the letters wonky!

    I also post new charts directly above old ones-so by the end of the year, we have a nice stack! This way, my kids can look back at previous charts if they need help remembering something.

    :) Kaitlyn
    Smiles and Sunshine

    1. Those are all great ideas! Quick & easy...my favorite. I like that you put your anchor charts on top of each other. That's smart, so you can reference them throughout the year. -Amanda

  2. I love that ways to divide chart. I will be taking a screenshot of that!

    I can honestly say that I haven't used anchor charts for math so it's something I will have to make a point to do.

    We use them for ELA mini lessons, and I've taken photos for students to add to their reflection journals.

    All of your tips are great!
    Learning in the Little Apple

    1. Thanks Jane! My kids love that one too. I started using anchor charts in math a few years ago and it really helped my kids with vocabulary component. I also make charts for procedural stuff in math, like how to do double digit multiplication. This way they always have an example if they forget a step. -Amanda

  3. Be careful with the information in the multiplication and division chart above. When multiplying you don't always start with smaller numbers. Think about 4 x 1/2= 1/4. Focus on teaching the role of scaling when multiplying as this sets kids up for success in 4th and 5th grades.


Thank you for taking a moment to share your thoughts!