Math Manipulatives

August 9, 2010 at 7:17 AM Leave a comment

by: Jennifer Perez

What exactly are Math Manipulatives?  According to Wikipedia, a Math Manipulative is “an object which is designed so that a student can learn some mathematical concept by manipulating it. The use of manipulatives provides a way for children to learn concepts in developmentally appropriate, hands-on ways.”

With that being said, lets look at a few different math manipulatives and how they may be used in our classrooms.


1.Tangram ~ A geometric tangram contains seven pieces.  These seven pieces can be re-arranged into a plethora of different images such as: people, birds, animals and objects.  Allowing students to the opportunity to use Tangrams is instrumental!  Not only will they be sharpening their geometry skills, but they will also be working on: shape identification, understand basic geometry concepts and build their spatial awareness.

Pattern Blocks

2. Pattern Blocks ~ A set of Pattern Blocks will typically include: squares, triangles, trapezoids, hexagons, rhombuses (rhombi) and smaller rhombi.  Using pattern blocks with your students will create another opportunity for them to continue their geometry and spatial awareness skills by:

  • Using attributes to describe, analyze and draw different geometric figures.
  • Being able to identify and describe plane figures.

Encourage ‘explore’ time with your kiddos by asking them to create images with certain objects. For example: Ask your students to create a house only using a square and two triangles.   Part of the learning process will be locating those figures and manipulating them to create the appropriate image.

Fraction Stax

3. Fraction Stax ~ I just learned about Fraction Stax this summer from a Professional Development Training I attended.  The concept is simple, yet extremely beneficial- Fractions that can be stacked!  The Fraction Stax help students (and adults) make and see: equivalent fractions, adding fractions, subtracting fractions and finding like fractions.  The benefits from the manipulative will continue as long as it is being used!   All Fraction Stax module fractions using : halves, thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths, eights, tenths, twelfths, and one whole. The Fraction Stax includes 51 fraction pieces, a 9-peg base, and an activity guide.

Chances are, your school may already have these manipulatives available for you to use in your classrooms.  If not, I suggest locating whatever manipulatives are available and researching effective ways to integrate them into your classroom!!

Happy Learning!

© Jennifer Perez 8/6/10


Entry filed under: Math. Tags: , , .

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