When I first started working at hand2mind, I was not very familiar with their products. There were a few things like pattern blocks and 2-color counters that I had in my classroom, but nothing uniquely hand2mind. In my first week I came across 3 or 4 products that made my inner teacher scream “I need this!” VersaTiles is one of those products. Now it is one of my “go-to” gifts. I give VersaTiles to new teachers and parents. When a friend asks if hand2mind has anything to help his/her child practice any math or literacy topic, I point him/her towards VersaTiles.
At first glance, VersaTiles looks like a set of workbooks. But VersaTiles is so much more. The magic is in the answer case. Moving the tiles from the top to the bottom of the answer case provides a hands-on element. Kids are going to fidget, and the case gives their fidget focus. There is also a sense of progress as you move through the questions. When you have answered all the questions, you flip the answer case and compare the pattern to the pattern on the page in the book. Even adults get a little thrill when the answer pattern matches.
Children love checking and correcting their own work. My 4-year old niece liked it so much she wouldn’t let her baby brother play with it. She said, “No, Ben! This special. You have to be 4.”
The kindergarten books use a unique case with only 8 tiles and a special see-through design so children can lay the case right on the book. They take a number off a question and use it to cover the answer. The rest of the VersaTiles books all use another case that comes with 12 tiles.
As a teacher, I would have used VersaTiles in several ways. It is such a flexible system and is great for:
Early finishers and seat work
Small group activities
Extra practice on specific topics
Differentiated practice by using books from OTHER grade levels
Recommend small sets for parents who whose children need extra practice
The Evolution of VersaTiles
When I first saw VersaTiles, I loved the product so much I didn’t really notice that the books were colorless and the answer case was dated and difficult to use. Here at hand2mind we spent the last several years updating the answer case and the books. The new answer cases are much more inviting and easier to use. The new, standards-aligned math and literacy books are in full color. In 2018, we partnered with BOB BOOKS® to create some PreK–K kits that include a set of BOB BOOKS and a VersaTiles book and answer case. In 2020 we finished updating the line by getting new kindergarten and middle school math books published. This means we have literacy covered for grades K–6 and Math for grades K–8. I can’t wait to see where we take VersaTiles next!
Something else I am excited about is the DIY VersaTiles tool. Our VersaTiles Teacher Guides have always included a template and answer patterns so teachers could make VersaTiles activities that go directly with the material they cover in their classroom. This template could be duplicated from the book. The teacher could write the questions and answers, color the pattern, and then copy it. Making sure you write the answer in the right box to make a pattern was tedious.
This year we have created a digital template so a teacher can type the questions and answers. It is set up to tab through question 1, answer 1, question 2, answer 2, and so on. Just follow the tabs and everything will be in the right place to make the answer pattern. Now you have the perfect review activity for any subject area. There are 2 layout options and 12 answer patterns to choose from, providing 24 different templates to choose from. It is all in one easy-to-use, fill-in-the-blank PDF.
Since there are many ways to access VersaTiles, you are sure to find something to meet the needs of your students and your budget.