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Everyday Manipulatives to Use in Your Math Room

From counting boards to wooden or clay trays, math manipulatives have been around for a considerable time. They help students learn sorting, ordering, recognizing geometric shapes, understanding the base, and comprehending mathematical operations easily.

Math is a fundamental subject; we rely on it to move the world forward through practical calculations that lead to innovations. Anything that can help students understand it better is, welcomed. Here, we analyze what math manipulatives are and which ones are a must-have in your math room.

What are Math Manipulatives?

A math manipulative refers to any object (spinners, blocks, shapes, folded papers) designed to help learners perceive mathematical concepts through manipulation. Correct usage of these manipulatives can help students learn math verbalization, encourage working collaboration, allow students to own their learning experiences, and facilitate easy math presentations.

Examples of Manipulatives Every Math Room Should Have

Unlike in the past, when math manipulatives were limited in supplies, there are plenty to choose from today. You only have to choose one that works for you. Common examples include:

Learning Resources Mathlink Cubes

Counting is an essential aspect of math. It allows pupils to develop their early maths skills conveniently. Having these Mathlink Cubes will enable learners to build their one-to-one correspondence skills. They can also learn to count from 1 to 100, develop their shape identification skills, and match items accordingly. Other math skills that learners can benefit from these manipulatives include:

  • Skip counting
  • Color identification
  • Develop eye-hand coordination
  • Patterning
  • Grouping
  • Addition
  • Subtraction

The learning styles of these Mathlink cubes manipulatives are visual and tactile. They are suitable for learners aged five and above.

LEGO Classic Medium Creative Brick Box 

Learning math concepts doesn’t have to be serious; incorporate some fun! This LEGO classic medium creative box is one of the best ways of engaging your learners in fun activities while teaching math concepts.

With these, learners will spend a lot of time creating toy trains or tiger figurines. Suitable for both boys and girls, these manipulatives can help pupils learn math concepts such as addition and subtraction in a fun way. Also, they can improve their creativity and cognitive skills. There is no limit to how much learners can gain from these manipulative pieces that come in different shapes, colors, and sizes.


If used correctly, dice can be perfect math manipulatives for learners. With activities such as D-icebreakers, Tenzi, over the mountain, and dice wars, you can teach math concepts such as addition, subtraction, probability, and multiplication, while sprinkling some fun into it.

The Learning resources Dice in Dice Bucket is an excellent example of a math toy manipulative. With its brightly colored dice pieces, learners benefit from single, smaller, and white pieces for learning different concepts. It is perfect for children aged three and above.

Double-Sided Whiteboards 

For advanced learners, double-sided whiteboards are a must-have in any math room. The Scribbledo 12 Pack Double-Sided Whiteboard is a perfect example of this. First, its double-sided feature allows for optimum use. You can use one side to draw an XY axis graph and the other as a math manipulative. Its lightweight nature ensures that learners don’t strain, and it can easily be maneuvered depending on the user’s preferences.

Most whiteboards are erasable, making them environmentally friendly and economic friendly — teachers do not have to waste paper or other resources with each use. These manipulatives are perfect for interactive learning and studying purposes, whether at home or school.

Two-Color Counters 

The red and yellow two-color counters are another math manipulatives you can consider adding to your math room. They are perfect for young learners as they help them learn how to count, add, subtract, probability, and make basic patterns. The durable plastic counters are visible, so learners don’t strain to identify them. If you want to teach problem-solving, help learners understand the base-10 numbering system, sorting, and patterning, these two-color counters are your perfect option.

The Key Takeaway 

Math manipulatives have been around since time immemorial. Thankfully, the growth of technology and innovation has facilitated more advanced and goal-oriented manipulatives in the modern world. The type of manipulative you choose for your math room depends on what you want to achieve. These tools are perfect for teaching math concepts such as addition, subtraction, probability, multiplication, and patterns.

Common examples of practical math manipulatives include two-color counters, double-sided whiteboards, dices, brick boxes, and Mathlink cubes. There is no limit to how many manipulatives you can have in your math room — feel free to pick ones that work for you and your students.

Written by Mary Joseph
Education World Contributor
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