As a teacher responsible for stocking my classroom with supplies, one item I purchase annually is patty paper. This versatile resource has a multitude of uses for hands-on math and science activities. With so many brands and options on the market, I learned quickly that patty paper can vary widely in terms of quality, size, texture and more.
After years of trial and error with different patty paper types falling short for my students’ needs, I’ve developed a trusted procurement checklist. Now before placing any bulk patty paper orders, I make sure to ask suppliers these key 10 questions to ensure I choose the best product. Keep reading for my top considerations when sourcing the perfect patty paper for manipulatives and experiments that delight students year after year.
Patty paper comes in a range of sizes, so the first specification I nail down is the dimensions of individual sheets. Here are some common sizes I’ve purchased in the past:
- 3 inch squares
- 4 inch squares
- 2 x 3 inch rectangles
- 3 x 4 inch rectangles
The sheet size affects what math and science concepts I can teach with the patty paper. My favorite for versatility are the 4 inch squares as they provide enough workspace for students to model fractions, geometry concepts, graphing, organizing counters and more. I also stock some 3 x 4 rectangle patty paper for introducing area and perimeter.
Make sure any patty paper meets your needs for demonstrating age-appropriate math, science and even art lessons. Don’t be afraid to request free samples from patty paper brands to compare sheet sizes hands-on before you buy.
Table Comparing Common Patty Paper Sizes
|Best Suited For
|3 inch squares
|Modeling primary unit fractions like 1/2, 1/3, 1/4
|4 inch squares
|General manipulation needs for grades 2-5
|2 x 3 inch rectangles
|3 x 4 inch rectangles
|Intermediate area/perimeter problems
How Thick Is the Paper Stock?
Patty paper needs to be thick enough for folding, stacking, creasing and holding its shape as students manipulate it during lessons. At the same time, it should lay flat easily and allow for precise folds on size boundaries without cracking.
I look for patri paper around 90-110 lb cardstock thickness. If it’s thinner than that, it tends to curl, wrinkle and tear easily. But heavier than 110 lb starts to get too stiff for easy folding by small hands. Prioritize paper stock that strikes the perfect balance of being substantial yet malleable.
Along with the thickness, the texture of the patty paper stock varies between brands. Some options have an ultra smooth, almost waxy finish. Others feature a subtle toothiness for easier pencil grip.
For student use, I prefer the latter, slightly grittier texture. Pencils grab and write more easily on the paper without the slippery feel cheaper patty paper often has. Just a bit of extra “grip” goes a long way in keeping young students focused on the activity instead of their pencils sliding around!
Does It Have Grid Lines for Recording Data?
This feature is one of my secret weapons! I love having students not just manipulate the patty paper hands-on but also record quantitative data from experiments and models right on their workspace sheets.
Finding patty paper already pre-printed with measurement grid lines (in quarter or half-inch increments) provides built-in scaffolding to organize findings without added effort. It’s a super user-friendly detail that makes patty paper even more versatile as individual student dry erase boards for annotating partern observations, graphing points, and more.
As much as I wish I had endless storage space, the reality of managing patty paper stock in a bustling classroom is far from that. So to stay organized, I look for bulk cases that segment quantities into handy subsets I can easily parcel out to students.
My preference is for patty paper packaged in packs of 100 sheets shrink-wrapped together. This lets me distribute a pack per table group or individual student when needed, then replenish open inventory at glance since I know how many sheets are in each bundle.
I’ve found this the most efficient way to maintain adequate patty paper supplies without getting overwhelmed by haphazard piles of loose sheets strewn everywhere!
Can Students Visually Identify & Sort Sheets Instantly?
Keeping young students on task requires creating very tactile, visually distinct activities to build number sense skills. One way I accomplish this with patty paper exercises is using different color paper stock for different learning goals.
For example, yellow patty paper signifies modeling fractions. Blue is for geometry. Green for graphs & data. Color coding the sheets by lesson objective helps students instantly recognize sheets for the appropriate manipulative activity. This boosts independence so they can grab, sort and self-correct materials fast and accurately.
Bonus points if the patty paper colors correspond to other hands-on math manipulatives too!
Curled paper that won’t lie flat is without a doubt one of the most frustrating aspects of lower quality patty paper. As students try accomplishing tasks like stacking squares to model multiplication or form 3D shapes, curled sheets simply won’t allow precision.
I always test samples by holding paper under slight tension in the corners to see if the sheets exhibit any lift or instability. Top-notch patty paper lies perfectly smooth and flat the whole time students are manipulating it without fighting curly edges. This seemingly small detail greatly impacts projects turning out accurately or falling flat!
How Quickly Does the Ink Dry Without Smudging?
In an ideal world, students would use perfect care when writing on both sides of patty paper during interactive modeling. But the reality with young kids is they enthusiasm grab sheets the second they complete a step, often leaving key data and labels smudged or illegible.
By proactively using quick-dry ink formulated especially for patty paper production, suppliers can create a friction-free experience even for wiggly writers! I always confirm the ink technology before ordering a new patty paper product, saving lots of headaches down the road.
From constructing 3D models of polyhedrons to demonstrating fraction equivalence, students must fold patty paper extensively across nearly all exercises. But cheaper quality paper rips apart easily along those crease lines under gentle pressure.
Before buying any bulk cases, I’m sure to request a few sample sheets for an integrity test. I firmly fold patty paper squares both vertically and diagonally several times, checking carefully for splitting along the creases. Top-notch paper stock and precise manufacturing should allow crisp folds without damage so the sheets can handle reasonable manipulation.
Again, don’t be afraid to be hands-on testing paper structure integrity before you invest in boxes of product that might not withstand your students’ enthusiastic math and science explorations!
Conclusion & Next Steps
I hope reviewing my top 10 considerations for sourcing patty paper gives you a helpful framework as you evaluate options to stock your own classroom. While patty paper seems simple on the surface, distinctions in sheet quality truly impact success executing lessons effectively. Asking the right questions upfront ensures you choose durable, versatile patty paper optimized for all your hands-on teaching goals.
As you weigh purchasing decisions, feel free to reach out with any other questions! I’m happy to share photos, videos and trials of products that have worked amazingly well elevating engagement through paper manipulative activities across many years of teaching. Here’s to many engaging math and science explorations ahead!
Where can teachers buy patty paper at the lowest cost?
I recommend buying in bulk directly from manufacturers online to get vastly better pricing. They offer case pack discounts for 500+ sheets rather than small pack markups common at teacher supply stores.
What brands of patty paper do you recommend?
After testing many options, my top choice is Sunshine Packaging for fantastic quality and bulk case value. I also like Sax Arts & Crafts patty paper for the colored sheet variety.
How should teachers store patty paper between lessons?
Invest in lidded clear plastic storage bins (around 5-gallon size). Separate different sheet sizes/colors using divider racks. This makes sheets easily visible and accessible all year without getting crumpled stuffed into drawers or closets.