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I love living math! Thus, the title of my how-to book, Loving Living Math. Living math is special for so many reasons! One of those reasons is the use of math manipulatives.
What are math manipulatives?
Math manipulatives are things your children touch, move – ahem, manipulate – in order to understand various math concepts. Manipulatives can be store-bought, homemade or even simple objects you have around the house.
Why are math manipulatives part of a good living math curriculum?
The purpose of math manipulatives is two-fold. First, they help children to form a concrete understanding of abstract concepts. When a child can “see” that 1/2 + 1/2 = 1 whole by using fraction manipulatives, the oftentimes tough concept of fractions gets a whole lot easier because there is now a picture in the brain of what a fraction really is. In other words, the manipulatives have helped build brain connections!
Second, manipulatives meet learning styles. If your child is kinesthetic (learns through movement) or visual (learns through seeing), manipulatives provide the perfect learning environment. I’ve found, though, that even children who normally thrive linguistically (through language) need math manipulatives to help them “get” certain math concepts because their learning style is words, not numbers.
What are my favorite math manipulatives?
10 Must-Have Manipulatives
Over the years (in homeschooling and teaching in public schools), I’ve consistently found these 10 manipulatives to be the most used and most crucial for understanding tough math concepts. Having these (or making your own) will be very helpful tools in your homeschool for many years.
1. 100 Board – This can be used with teaching skip counting, all operations, prime numbers, square numbers and much more!
2. Balance – There are many types of primary balances that will compare weights of all kinds.
3. Base Ten Blocks – The concepts of place value and regrouping can be very abstract and hard to grasp. This set of blocks provides a concrete and visual understanding that makes math make more sense.
4. Fraction Circles or Fraction Tiles – Fractions can be tough to grasp for many children, too. A set of fraction tiles or circles helps children see and build relationships between fractions – and that makes a world of difference in understanding.
6. Square Color Tiles – We use these tiles all the time in the early years. They come in handy for patterning, measuring, graphing, and more.
7. Snap Cubes – This is another manipulative we use all the time in the early years. The cubes are pretty much used for similar purposes as the square color tiles with even more uses like determining volume and building geometric figures.
8. Student Clock – A simple hands-on clock is imperative for helping children understand minutes within hours.
10. Tessellation Puzzles – Tessellations are repeating patterns gone wild. They repeat up, down and all around without any gaps or overlaps. Puzzles like the one I’ve linked challenge brains!
If you really like the way manipulatives enhance your homeschool and have extra money to spare, each of the following can also be very beneficial tools for mathematics education. Again, in some cases, you can create your own homemade versions. You might also be surprised to find a few things you already have around the house as math manipulatives!
How do you use math manipulatives?
There are many books, how-to videos and how-to blog posts to find for any manipulative you buy. I suggest a simple Google search for your particular needs.
Here are some posts that share how to use a few popular manipulatives.
Are you excited about math manipulatives? They are SO good for your homeschool!
Learn more about living math and how to incorporate it successfully in your homeschool with my easy-to-read and easy-to-implement how-to book for parents – Loving Living Math.