A 2015 study* confirmed that hands-on science and math manipulatives are highly effective in helping students learn the material. Furthermore, math manipulatives can be used before a student is formally introduced to the concepts in school.
We have a child with dyscalculia, so math manipulatives are near and dear to us. The issue, especially for people with dyscalculia, is that math is a subject that is sometimes taught (erroneously) as an abstract subject involving lots of memorization and a genius-level IQ to ever understand.
When it is taught correctly, math becomes real and tangible. Students start to see math and numbers in the world around them and it starts to make sense to them.
That’s why I advocate hands-on math as much as possible. You can do that by choosing a hands-on curriculum and/or supplementing with math manipulatives.
Math manipulatives are anything that students can touch, handle, and manipulate in order to gain a better understanding of math and numbers. This can be done with traditional objects, real-world opportunities, games, and even apps. You can even use beans or pennies as math manipulatives to teach counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.
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- Geoboards – this was our #1 math manipulative. We had several of them and lots of rubber bands. They would get very artistic with them, and we hated undoing their creations. So, we had 6 of these. My kids used these just for fun.
- Montessori Wooden Geoboards
- Montessori 100 Wooden Board
- Base 10 blocks
- Candy or beans as counters or when teaching addition, subtraction, multipication, division
- Unifix Cubes
- Cash register and money – We still have ours years later. It was helpful for teaching money-related math skills to a child with dyscalculia.
- Counting Bears
- Pattern Blocks
- Amazing Math Book
- Fraction Tiles
- Algebra Tiles
- Folding Geometric Shapes
- Online virtual math manipulatives from Didax
- Teaching math while cooking (volume printable)
- Measuring Cups
- Distance traveled in a car
- Calories consumed or burned
- Distance walked or distance traveled on a bike ride
- Estimating the time it will take to get from one place to another when running errands, then calculating estimated time vs. actual time
- Calculating sale prices when the sale is a percentage off
- Using a food scale to measure out portions
- Adding food prices in the store
- Calculating the miles per gallon used by the family car
- Counting road signs
- Comparison shopping
- Sports scores
- Think Fun Math Dice
- Game of Life
- Multiplication Bingo
- Games for younger grades
- More advanced games to help with logic
- Even more resources listed on The Homeschool Scientist
- Space-themed Math Printables
- Resource for Teaching Logic
- Math board on TheHomeschoolScientist’s Pinterest
- SplashLearn: Kids Math & Reading free, available in the Play Store
- Moose Math free, available in the Apple Store
- Moose Math free, available in the Play Store
- Prodigy Math (grades 1-8) free, available in the Apple Store
- Prodigy Math (grades 1-8) free, available in the Play Store
- Tiggly Chef Math (preschool-K), free available in the Apple Store
- Operation Math (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division skills practice) in the Apple Store
- Operation Math in the Play Store
- Dragon Box Algebra paid, available in the Play Store
- Chicken Coop Fractions free, available in the Apple Store
- Geoboard App free, available in the Apple Store
- Manipulatives app free, available in the Apple Store
- Khan Academy Kids App free, available in the Apple Store
- Khan Academy Kids App free, available in the Play Store
- Khan Academy App free available in the Apple Store
- Khan Academy App free, available in the Play Store