If you have a child that struggles with really understanding math concepts, the use of math manipulatives can really help. They also work amazingly well for children that are visual and hands-on, tactile learners.
Using Math Manipulatives
I used to be afraid of curriculum that came with manipulatives. I felt like it was one more thing to teach, or to have to learn and understand. Then I had my fourth child, and I was always looking for ways to keep her busy while I was helping the older ones. I found a huge box of math manipulatives at a garage sale and brought them home. She was so enamored with them, and we found so many ways to play with them and use them. We still use them today for math helps, even in the third grade.
Why Do Teachers Use Manipulatives to Teach Math?
Math concepts tend to be abstract in children’s minds. Manipulatives help to make mathematical topics concrete and connected to real life. Plus, manipulatives are just plain fun to use!
Great for Kinesthetic Learners
Math manipulatives really help to keep your kids focused and enjoying their math lessons. Squirmy kids or kinesthetic learners love to be able to touch manipulatives and learn with them. Visual kids appreciate seeing the concepts in physical form in front of them.
These math supplies provide various representations for the mathematics being studied. In other words, an addition word problem can be seen as an equation on index cards, but it can also be represented with colored pom-poms. Young children do especially well gaining their foundational number sense when you use objects they can hold and move around.
What are Manipulatives Used for?
Manipulatives are so much fun for children to use as they study math and learn new concepts. It’s perfect for kinesthetic learners and it provides a tool to engage students in a hands-on mathematics education. You can use manipulatives for almost any math concept that you want to teach. Here are just a few areas of mathematical knowledge in which you can teach with a useful visual:
- Counting and ordinal numbers
- Adding and subtracting
- Multiplication and division
- Telling time
- Base ten
- Number Patterns
- Adding and subtracting fractions
- Counting money
Types of Math Manipulatives
The term manipulatives refers to any concrete objects that allow a student to explore an idea with a hands-on approach. The best part about math manipulatives is that you don’t even need to spend any money on them! You likely have dozens of household items that would be a perfect math manipulative. Consider this list of math manipulatives:
- Cereal pieces
- Goldfish crackers
- Dry pasta
- Egg carton
- Wooden blocks
Here are some other favorite math manipulatives:
How Does Using Math Manipulatives Help Students?
Manipulatives are essential tools for helping students to visualize abstract math ideas. It gives them more confidence in math as they understand the concepts. They help students form a deeper understanding of the material.
Because there are different ways of representing a math concept, manipulatives provide that physical aspect. Looking at equations simply written on paper can be confusing, but many students finally grasp the math topic when they can use manipulatives.
Simply put, manipulatives are visual models and help students with problem solving.
Solidifying Math Concepts
At first glance, some math manipulatives can seem overwhelming, or you may be unsure of how to use them. I found that worksheets designed for use with specific math counters or manipulatives to be very helpful. They can help solidify specific math concepts you are working on, and help keep little learners busy. They are a great tool for kids with special needs.
If you are looking for a math curriculum that incorporates the use of manipulatives for hands-on learners, check out Right Start Math.
Printable Math Manipulatives
If you are looking for ways to use your math manipulatives, check out this list of math manipulative worksheets and learning tools.
Base Ten Blocks Printables
Printable Pattern Cards, Domino Games, Base Ten Worksheets, and more – Lots of resources here for teaching your younger children, including math games and place value blocks printable options.
Hands-On Number Mats – These base ten number mats are perfect for using with small manipulatives. Collect all the themes of these mats for 1-20. Perfect for your elementary level students.
Addition with Manipulatives Worksheets
Printable Fruit Counters Counting Cards – These cute fruit-themed cards will help your little learners with their counting. Grab some adorable fruit counters to use with these cards.
Printable Pom Pom Addition Game – This printable addition mat and a handful of pom-poms is all you need to teach your kindergarten students how to add.
Printable Math Dominoes and Sheets for Addition and Subtraction Practice – Your kids can match up their printable dominoes and write the solution of the addition or subtraction problem.
Learn Area and Perimeter with Legos Printables and Worksheets – These area and perimeter task cards are perfect for turning your LEGO Duplo blocks into concrete manipulatives .
Printable Math Manipulatives – You’ll find an entire math manipulatives kit here, including place value mats, ten frames, number bonds, multiplication fact bookmarks and blank multiplication tables.
Printable Fraction Tiles
Fraction Manipulatives – Here’s fraction strips, fraction bars, and fraction circles for your primary grades kids.
Snap Cube Shapes Hands-On Math Manipulatives Worksheet – Here’s a great set of math papers to print and use with snap cubes for fun shape recognition skills with your young students .
Pattern Block Symmetry Mats – Use these mats with pattern blocks to help your kids learn about symmetry. There are 10 free mats to choose from.
Printable Patterning Worksheets – Let your elementary students practice patterning with any set of manipulatives with these fun worksheets.
Symmetry Circles Printable Math Activity – Use pattern blocks and these symmetry circles printables to help your kids learn about patterns.
Using math manipulatives can be super helpful if you have a visual learner, a kinesthetic learner, or just a child who is struggling to grasp math concepts. Using math manipulative worksheets can help you figure out the best ways to put your manipulatives to use. You don’t need expensive supplies, and you probably even have some of the household objects we listed above.
Sarah is a wife, daughter of the King and Mama to 4 children (one who is a homeschool graduate)! She is a an eclectic, Charlotte Mason style homeschooler that has been homeschooling for almost 20 years.. She is still trying to find the balance between work and keeping a home and says she can only do it by the Grace of God, and Coffee!