Teaching math to children can be challenging because you need to match the student’s level of understanding. Children may struggle with math when they don’t know the language of math or because they don’t have a solid foundation in basic math concepts. Additionally, math can be an abstract subject that is difficult for some students to grasp without hands-on experience or visual aids. That’s why math manipulatives are an increasingly popular tool for educators. These physical objects and tools help to bring abstract math concepts to life and allow students to better understand and visualize mathematical ideas. Let’s look at some of the best math manipulatives and how they can benefit children trying to master math.
Unit cubes are an essential tool for teaching math. These sets consist of small cubes representing ones, long rods representing tens, hundred sheets with one hundred cubes representing hundreds, and a big cube representing one thousand. Using these cubes, young learners can see, for example, that ten individual cubes can make up one tens rod, and ten rods can make a hundred sheets. Unit cubes should be the primary manipulative in teachers’ and parents’ toolkits.
Fraction Tiles: Learning fractions can be confusing for young students because they used to be taught that one is the smallest number and learned to count from zero to one, without explaining that there’s something in between. Fraction tiles can help solve this problem. They provide a visual representation of what happens when we divide a whole into smaller pieces.
Using measuring devices is a critical skill that children learn from a young age. However, reading about measurements and devices in books is not enough. Students need hands-on experience using rulers and other measuring tools. This helps them to not only estimate the size of objects but also to develop a general understanding of how different objects relate to one another in terms of size, weight, and temperature. Having access to measuring tools at home can be a useful way to continue building these important skills.
Simply having a bunch of manipulatives won’t turn a child into a genius. The purpose of these tools is to make abstract math concepts more tangible and help students develop a better grasp of numbers and how they are interconnected. Plus, some math manipulatives can be pretty fun to play with! For better results, combine using manipulatives with addition & subtraction, division, fractions, and multiplication worksheets, as well as instructional videos and games. Introduce them into your homeschooling curriculum and make your child’s learning journey more enjoyable!