From cuisenaire rods to base-ten pieces, manipulatives are a CRITICAL part of our primary classrooms. They offer students a real, hands-on way to explore a mathematical concept and build their own meaning. The CSA model of mathematics has us moving students from the concrete to the semi-concrete to the abstract when introducing and teaching new material. When students are struggling at the representational/abstract level, we always move back and build concrete experiences with mathematics. Students need hands-on ways to interact with math.
Why Use Online Manipulatives?
- Online manipulatives allow students to show their thinking in a whole-group mini-lesson before guided math small groups begin (a great scaffold for students who struggle but still want to share their math thinking)
- While doing a number talk, online manipulatives give a way for students to ‘try-out’ others’ thinking or for teachers to model student thinking in a real way
- Partner task cards with a carefully chosen online manipulative displayed on a SMART Board or laptop, and it makes a perfect math center
- Math manipulatives can be SO expensive! Online manipulatives give students and classrooms access to a variety of math tools without having to invest in them, perfect for at-home learning and practice.
Think Central, a free resource from Hardcourt, offers K-12 teachers resources to accompany their math textbook. Our school does not use a prescribed curriculum, but still we love having access to these free resources. From basic math concepts to middle-grade geometry and algebra, Think Central is thorough (remember – it’s intended to supplement a textbook so it has a HUGE catalog of resources).
I really like these manipulatives and workspaces because within each resource there are lots of bells and whistles. The different options offered within each section closely match specific skill and strategies introduced in the classroom. These manipulatives are perfect for mini-lessons!
Math Learning Center
Glencoe Manipulative Library
Glencoe has an awesome collection of grade-specific thinking mats named “backgrounds” that you can interchange with a huge bank of manipulatives. From Part, Part, Whole mats to fraction unit tiles, Glencoe has ALL the materials needed to demonstrate Common Core math strategies and concepts. There aren’t as many bells and whistles (pens, markers, flexibility) but in terms of content, it’s thorough.
Interactive 100s Chart
For the first few weeks of school our 1st grade focus is recognizing number patterns on the 100s chart, as well as, ‘before’ and ‘after’. My go-to 100’s chart is SPLAT online! We turn this online resource into a game, playing as a class on our SMART Board. Using different paint colors, students can visualize patterns on the chart. Another variation on the game is having students take turns making number puzzles, “I’m think of a number that is one more than 15.” Everyone would circle it on their 100s chart (at their desk using a dry erase marker) and then, one special friend would SPLAT a number on the board.