Sunday, July 24, 2011

Math Manipulatives

Math manipulatives.... awesome, and yet, obnoxious.....

I love using manipulatives in math for numerous, obvious reasons. However, preparing for math each day is such a tedious, horrible task! I am trying to think of an idea to manage/distribute all of those manipulatives throughout the year. These are the ones we use and I would like to include;


Play Money

Linking Cubes

Pattern Blocks
So, here is what I am thinking.... (and here is where it gets possibly expensive). I want to have some kind of bin, bag, box, etc. for each student. Each student will have the manipulatives they would need in their box - maybe a shoe box. They sell them at target for a pretty decent price about now I think. Oh, and I also found those "book bags" which hang up on a hook, that would be good for storage - also very expensive... Then I was thinking maybe I will just put the manipulative for the unit we are on...

Here are the good things,
  1. No wasted time filling up cups or passing things out.
  2. No worry about losing things - I would have an inventory of what is in each box and students are responsible for their items - their box would have their assigned number on it too...
  3. Good way to teach organization and responsibility
Here are the problems
  1. Where do I store them?
  2. Will everything fit in there?
  3. If I do individual units I have to switch every few weeks - also I like to review so I would honestly just rather have EVERYTHING in there together....
What do you do in your classroom for math manipulatives??
How do you distribute them?


  1. Hi Mrs. Mikos-
    My school uses the Think Math program which generously does exactly what your planning on doing. Each teacher gets along with their manuals and classroom materials, a kit for each student which includes most of these manipulatives. Amazing I know... but guess what?? I find it too much for my kiddos. Having the kits was SUCH a distraction for them. It's like asking them to go into a candy store and take just ONE item out at a time. They want to touch EVERYTHING!!
    So what I did-
    I took the manipulatives that we use out of their kits and combined them to make 8 baggies. I then put those 8 baggies into a tub and labeled them by each particular manipulative.
    The reason I put them into baggies is because I have 5 tables not desks in my classroom. Therefore I could put one baggie for four kids to share. I have the extra baggies in case I decide to spread kids out into more groups at other spaces in the classroom.
    I found that this works the best because instead of passing out or having kids get up to get their materials... I just get the one tub and ask a student to help pass out one to each group.

    Hope this helps... hope to link up soon !!

  2. Have you tried Dollar Tree? A teacher next door to me bought little square crates there ($1.00 each) that fit right in the cubbies on top of the students' books. :)

    Melly <><

    Second Grade Strategies for Sizzlin' Second Graders!

  3. I read Suzy's note...she's right. I had to do that as well. Our Math series gave us some pretty nice little "shoebox" style manipulative containers full of manipulatives. Problem: students want to play with all of the manipulatives rather than get out what is needed only. So I second her motion...I did the same! :) Blessings & peace to you...

    Melly <><

  4. I just found your blog and am now following you!

    I baught a bunch of small tubs to store them in and place them on my book shelf under math tools. My students would grab their center and head to the math tool section and grab their tools for that center. It actually worked out really well.

  5. I bought those hanging bags and a rack with wheels to hang them on. I love it and it's the best system I have used! I label each bag with an objective and I have two or three games in each bag that match the objective. I don't let the kids get into them though. I pull bags when I work with small groups.