10 October 2016

Top Five Math Manipulatives to Use Now in Your Classroom

We all have some form of math manipulatives sitting around our classrooms.  But did you know you do not necessarily need those top of the line, super expensive manipulatives to get the job done? Some of the best math manipulatives are easy to use objects, many of us have stashed in the back of our cabinets or laying around the house.  Read below to find out my favorite top five math manipulatives and if you stay with me until the end their just might be a Freebie that makes it worth your while.

Top Five Math Manipulatives to Use Now in Your Classroom


Top Five Math Manipulatives to Use Now:  Dice

Once considered only for gamblers is no longer the case (just kidding)! Dice are seriously some of the best math manipulatives you can find.  Not only can they be bought just about anywhere and are super cheap, the things you can do with them are endless.  To review basic addition and subtraction roll two dice.  For addition add the two die to get the sum.  For subtraction take the two die and subtract to get the difference.  Dice are not just for younger children, the same concept can be used to teach multiplication too.  Need a few more ideas?  I love to use dice to teach place value.  I teach second grade, so I teach into the thousands place.  When I need a time filler or want a quick review, I place students into pairs and give each student a die.  They roll the die four times making a number and logging it on their record sheet (the recording sheet can be found in the FREEBIE).   They then write the number in expanded, word, and model form.

Top Five Math Manipulative to Use Now: Place Value Roll Freebie

Another number concept to teach with  dice is before and after.  You can even take it a step further and then add 10, 100, or 1000 to those numbers depending on how many dice you use.  I usually just make two digit numbers, because again I work with second grade.  However, the numbers could be larger for upper grades.  

Top Five Math Manipulatives to Use Now:  Before and After Freebie


Top Five Math Manipulative to Use Now: Cards

I love, love, love cards! I actually have a huge stash of playing cards stored in a box in my closet (guilty as charged).  This is my go to whenever I need a math time filler.  I pair my students up, give them a deck of cards, and let them play.  My favorite quick game to use for a time filler is to have students to each throw a card down and add.  Whoever reaches the sum first, wins that round and keeps the cards.  The player with the most cards at the end of the round wins the game.  It is a quick game of practicing facts, requires no paper, and is entertaining.  I have also played this same game with subtraction and multiplication.  It is just as effective with these math skills too!

Math Manipulative to Use Now

Have you ever heard of the game Salute?  It is a fun math learning game to play with your class using cards.  In this game your students are given practice with their addition and subtraction facts, while working on their problem solving skills.  Here is how you play:  Place students into groups of three and give them a deck of cards.  One student is the "general" and the other two are the "soldiers".  When the general calls salute, the soldiers raise a card to their heads.  The general quickly gives them the sum of the two cards, and the soldiers compete to determine the values of their cards, by looking at what the other player has (it is kind of a version of Head Bandz, but with a deck of cards).  The roles rotate, so each student gets to practice both with subtraction and addition facts for the numbers one to ten.  

I have made a Saluting with Addition and Subtraction score sheet to be used during this game.  Each student would get a copy of the score sheet to keep up with their points and to help them see the numbers they are working with.  The score sheet can be found in the FREEBIE.  

Math Games and Printables

For upper grades a fun math game to play using a deck of cards is called Fraction Draw.  Here is how you play:  Put your students into groups of four and give them a deck of cards.  The students will place all of the cards face down.  Each play draws two cards and creates a fraction with their cards, by placing the smallest number on top of the largest number.  All of the fractions are compared.  The player with the largest fraction, wins that round and gets to keep ALL of the cards from the other players.  The game continues until the deck is emptied.  The player with the most cards wins the game.  


Math Manipulatives Counters

Besides the fact  I use counters for almost all my game boards and game pieces, the flat two sided colored objects have more purpose than game boards alone.  When I need to review 10 facts or basic addition and subtraction with ten frames these math manipulatives are my best friends.  They are the perfect size for  fitting in a ten frame.  Plus, the students are able to see what it is being added and taken away, making the basic addition and subtraction problem much easier to solve.  Counters are perfect for those just learning their facts. They work great for making 5, 10, 15, or 20.

Just as unifix cubes work great to make patterns, you can actually use counters to make patterns too! Although you are only working with two colors you can still set up many pattern types such as: aabb, aba, and aabba.

For upper elementary students counters can come in handy to help teach basic fractions.  The Math Manic, has an easy no prep game for teaching basic fractions and showing how fractions can have equal parts.   Be sure to visit The Math Manic to see the easy instructions on how to play.  This is a perfect game for students who may need a little extra push or intervention with fractions.  

Unifix Cubes

Unifix Cubes Math Manipulatives

Unifix cubes have been around for a long time.  I remember my teachers using them when I was in elementary school, and I can assure that was longer than I care to remember.   Yes, they are great for teaching lower elementary kids how to count and sort into groups of colors.  But unifix cubes can be used for other mathematical concepts too.  Clear the Board is a great game to play with upper elementary that helps develop the concept of probability.   Each kid is given 10 unifix cubes and two dice.  They randomly place 10 cubes on the board wherever they choose.  The student the rolls the 2 dice.  If they roll a number that has a unifix cube on the board they remove it.  They play until the first player CLEARS THE BOARD!  This game is included in the FREEBIE!

Top Five Math Manipulatives to Use Now:  Unifix Cubes Clear the Board Freebie  
I also love the game I found on Primarly Speaking's blog called, Walk the Plank.  All you need is a wooden paint stick, unifix cubes, and your all set to practice you basic addition facts.  You can read all about the super easy, but fun game here.  

Unifix cubes can also be used to teach patterns.  You can start with simple patterns such as:  aabb, abab, or abc.  Once the student has mastered simple patterns, then have them approach more difficult repeating patterns such as:  abcdd, abbccda, or abaccdd.

Top Five Math manipulatives to Use Now:  Unifix Cubes Patterns Freebie

Top Five Math Manipulatives to Use Now

Base Ten Blocks

Base Ten Blocks are must for the grade I teach, which is second.  I know they are a must for the first grade teachers at my school too.  Place value is a skill which must and has to be taught correctly.   It is the foundation for most other math skills such as:  addition and subtraction (with and without regrouping), rounding, multiplication, division, decimals, and much more.  If a child does not have a clear understanding of place value it will lead to problems in other math areas.   

Top Five Math Manipulative to Use Now: Base Ten Blocks

Base Ten Model Worksheets

What is really great about base ten blocks is that you can find them just not as manipulatives, but in technology and video explanations too!  Below is a video that shows regrouping using Base Ten Models.

Below are digital deck cards you can find on Boom Cards.  Many TpT authors have put their task cards on this digital platform.  Kids love to practice their place value skills using the digital platform. 

Boom Learning Cards Place Value

Base ten models can be used to build numbers.   One of my favorite things to use base ten blocks for is to build numbers.  For the younger elementary students they will build numbers with one or two digits.  However,  you are not limited to just younger students, older students can benefit from base ten models too.   They can practice building number in the thousands, ten thousands, and so forth.  Also, it is great practice for them to trade ones for tens, tens for hundreds, and so forth.  

Top Five Manipulatives to Use Now

Although these math manipulatives are not new and have been around for a while, I hope you were able to find a new idea or a new way to implement them in your classroom.  Remember sometimes we don't necessarily need the top of the line materials to get our point and lesson across.  We just need to make learning fun!  If you would like to get some of these games and printables for FREE click on the image below and visit my TpT store.  

Math Games and Printables Free



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