Sunday, 8 October 2017

Manipulatives - What Are They and Where to Get Them?

What are Manipulatives

If you are a kindergarten teacher, you probably know what math manipulatives are. However, if you are a parent, you might have already used manipulatives with your children, without even knowing it. Manipulatives are physical objects, varying in size and shape, that kids can use in hands-on activities to learn math skills (counting and cardinality, operations in base ten, measurement, geometry, etc.). Using objects that children can play with will ensure a better grasp of math concepts, because they get involved directly, rather than just watching the adult explain.

There are a lot of objects that you can use as manipulatives, some of them bought, some recycled or found in nature. Here’s a list of some of my favourite manipulatives:
  • bear counters
  • mini-erasers
  • plastic animals
  • pattern blocks
  • unifix cubes
  • counting chips
  • buttons
  • beads
  • cards
  • straws
  • dry pasta (bows, shells)
  • beans or chickpeas (here’s how to dye pasta and beans)
  • stickers
  • popsicle sticks
  • buttons
  • bottle caps
  • beads (wooden, plastic, metal)
  • plastic coins
  • lego blocks
  • acorns
  • twigs
  • rocks
  • sea shells
  • horse-chestnuts (check out these fun ideas on how to use horse-chestnuts in activities)
  • straws
  • pipe cleaners
  • small shapes made with hole punches
  • magnetic coins (used with a magnetic wand)
  • pompoms
  • other small things from different games (jumping frogs, dice, shapes, etc.) 

How to store manipulatives

I bought a divider box from a craft store for under 3$. They are very easy to find online or at craft stores (search for divider boxes, jewelry tool boxes, or fishing tackle boxes). If you have larger manipulatives, I suggest storing them in zip lock bags or labeled boxes.

Here are some other blog posts you might like:

What I Have in My Teaching Suitcase
Pompom Math Game
Number Sense with Ten Frames 
Fun and Clever Ways to Use Clothespins in the Classroom 
Potatoes – Aren’t they great?

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