Blog post #2 of my math series is coming at ya! In my last post, we talked about math manipulatives storage and how so many new math programs or curriculums are turning to the hands-on approach and allowing students to use more than just a pencil and paper to figure out their answers. So, with that being said, here are some must have math manipulatives you should have in your classroom!
Must Have Math Manipulatives
Depending on your grade level, some of these manipulatives may apply to you, and some may not! But, this list of math manipulatives is a great starting point and will really help you get started, or at least get your brain gears turning! Here are some of the best math manipulatives for elementary classrooms.
Whiteboard and Markers
Now, dry erase markers and whiteboards obviously can be used in many different subjects, but they are a great addition to any math block. There is something about being able to erase their work that students love, and it helps them feel a little bit more confident to try their hand at a harder problem if they know they can erase and try again if they make a mistake.
Place Value Chips
Place value is a concept many teachers do not realize is SO important in math. As students get older, their conceptual understanding of decimals, rounding, and long division will become harder if they do not know place value. These place value chips may be my favorite math manipulative pack because it includes whole numbers and decimals.
These chips can be used in all grade levels. This means if you teach in 1st grade one year and then 5th the next, these chips can still come with you to your new classroom!
You may know these by the name tangrams. We all loved when our elementary teacher brought these out, and we could create beautiful pictures and patterns. These are not only for fun but can help teach math concepts like shape attributes, angles, etc.
Fractions are a huge part of the 3rd-5th curriculum. These fraction tiles can help students visualize fraction concepts like one whole and how fraction pieces get smaller as there are more. This kit comes with circles and strips and is perfect for helping students.
Being able to identify and solve math problems dealing with money is not only a critical math concept but is also a life skill kids need to have. I find using play money that looks like the real thing is best!
These unifix cubes are the most asked for math manipulatives for kindergarten and math manipulatives for first grade! They can be used for counting, addition, subtraction, and much more! I always look for ones that stay together but do not take a ton of strength to pull apart because little learners are often not super strong!
Telling time is among the most challenging concepts in 2nd and 3rd grade. Nowadays, we have digital clocks everywhere and even devices which will tell us the time by asking the simple question, “what time is it?” Students are still expected to know the time to the nearest minute by 4th grade, and using these personal clocks is a perfect way to help them learn!
Calculators are not technically a math manipulative, but I find having them available for small groups is always helpful! Students in any grade love to check their work, and their partners work with calculators. They give students a little bit of a “grown-up” feel and can make centers, games, and activities a little bit more fun.
It’s all about making ten in the primary grades, so why not have these tens frames ready to go. I love the different colored chips which come with this product because it makes addition and subtraction problems easier!
Last but not least are these simple two-colored counters. I have seen these used in primary and upper elementary for many different skills. Plus, they make terrific game pieces for math centers or math games!
Must Have Math Manipulatives And Learning
Teaching math concepts and using math manipulatives go hand in hand, and the manipulatives give students the chance to visualize and use a tool to learn. My guess is when you were a student, you often learned math “tricks” instead of the fundamental conceptual strategies. My other guess is that these “tricks” left you confused and wondering, “But, how did I get my answer? Why does it work like this?” Using manipulatives and helping students conceptualize different math topics, we are helping them gain a deeper understanding of math.
Requesting Must Have Math Manipulatives and Materials
Don’t forget you don’t have to buy all of these manipulatives! If your school has a PTA, it is always a great idea to reach out to them, and they may have money set aside to help teachers with supplies. You may also be able to use a program like Donor’s Choose or ask parents for donations during open house/teacher conferences!
Want to read other blog posts in this series?
Blog #1: Math Manipulative Storage