Manipulatives Make the Math Concrete

Manipulatives and Models
From a school that introduced Math in Focus materials this fall comes a great image of a fourth grader working with manipulatives to understand both algorithms and bar modeling. The class is learning long division. Number disks are a vital part of developing number sense in Singapore curricula.

Parnassus pennies
Another school is using Primary Mathematics and the class is doing the first lesson in multiplying and dividing by twos (Count by Twos). Students hadn’t used a lot of manipulatives before. This student excitedly exclaimed:

Hey, this is really useful!

Comments from observing teachers provided some interesting insights:

Wow, it sure is loud!

You can use a pre-cut sheet of felt from the craft store, or a laminated mat to help deaden the sound of working with louder manipulatives.

My kids would be bored to tears with this activity.

And she’s right, they would have. Her students were the higher ability group and need fewer concrete examples to understand the concept. (Note, not zero concrete examples, just fewer)

Number Discs
The red, white, orange discs with large numbers and the square set are available at as well as many online stores. The set with the smaller numbers is sold in conjunction with Math in Focus materials from Houghton Mifflin and corresponds to the colors used in the textbooks.

Looking for more on manipulatives? Check out this post: If I had a million dollars, ok $1000…
About Cassy

Passionate about Singapore Math + Teacher Trainer and Coach + Treasure Hunter + Learner. Answer to the ultimate question? 42.

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