Mathematics Manipulatives
- Teaching Aids or Toys?

Mathematics manipulatives or math teaching aids is one of those "must have" teaching tools, which help kids in learning math. Parents buying math manipulatives may want to understand the differences between educational aids versus toy. This is to ensure it is the right math learning aids for their kids.

Teaching Tool or Toy

Math manipulatives may be viewed as educational toys or games. However, there are some key differences.
  • Toys or games can be battery operated. Mathematics manipulatives are usually very simple apparatus.
  • Games may be governed by rules but math manipulatives are usually guided by the teaching of teachers or parents. Regardless, kids view such math teaching aids as toys to them.

Review of Math Teaching Aids

Here are the reviews of some math manipulatives I personally used to teach my children math. This review provides an insight of how we use these simple apparatus to teach math. You may want to consider getting them to enhance your child math learning experience.

Abacus Beads

wooden abacus math manipulatives to teach counting
This is the most fundamental learning tool for most toddlers and preschoolers to have. It provides the child a simple way to count from one to a hundred. We may be able to use other items to teach basic counting. With a wooden abacus beads, you will not have to hunt for a hundred lose beads or items. Then risk losing them or have difficulty packing and unpacking them.

Pattern Blocks

pattern block math manipulatives to train spatial concept
A great tool to train spatial concept and is very versatile. There are many different levels of pattern blocks and boards. One should get the appropriate level depending on the age of the kids. One can use it to build many different patterns or learn about shapes. Children will start unleashing their creativity and find many functions of these blocks if you leave it with them to explore. Even adults may find it interesting to use it for themselves.

Linking Cubes

linking cubes math teaching tool
This elementary mathematic manipulatives is more appropriate for kids at elementary level. Singapore Math advocates using these connecting cubes when teaching addition and subtraction concept. The linking cubes provide a visual and physical cue for children to solve simple addition and subtraction equation.  Similarly, you can also let your kids explore his creativity by leaving these cubes with him. My son has turned it into his Lego set.

Number Balance

number balance math learning aids tool
One may also consider this number balance equalizer to enhance the teaching of math equation concept. In addition to teaching addition and subtraction equation, the key benefit is that one can teach multiplication using this tool too.

Fraction Circles and Blocks

fraction tray teaching aids
Fraction Circles and Blocks provide a simple visual concept of fraction. Kids can explore the different sizes of each piece. They will find out two pieces of a quarter become half and two halves become whole.

If one is constraint on budget, cards is an inexpensive mathematics manipulatives to liven up math lesson. We have turn playing cards into one of our math learning lesson at home.

You can also create your own math teaching aids get the children to make them. Here is how children learn about 3D shapes with paper craft.

Importance of Mathematics Manipulatives

Mathematics manipulatives are essential in teaching math because:
  • It helps to make abstract ideas concrete. Math manipulatives provide children ways to construct physical models of abstract mathematical ideas.
  • According to Piaget’s theory, a child is an active learner who masters concepts through the progress of three level of knowledge - concrete, pictorial and abstract. Concrete manipulative is the first step for our children to explore and understand about math concept.
  • It is a useful tool for problem solving. It also allows kids to experience solving problems in different ways.
  • It builds kids' confidence. Children understandings become more robust when they put their thoughts into physical concrete evidence for testing.
  • It makes learning math interesting and fun.
In addition to math manipulatives, some parents use other effective methods to teach math. These fun math activities keep the children learning and have fun.


06/19/2017 9:44pm

Great post! I love the fraction circles!


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