**manipulatives**

What are manipulatives?

In math classrooms today, teachers are using

manipulatives to help students learn

mathematics. Manipulative materials are any concrete

objects that allow students to

explore an idea in an active, hands-on approach.

Manipulatives can be almost anything –

blocks, shapes, spinners or even paper that is cut or

folded.

The power of using manipulatives is that they let the

student connect mathematical ideas

and symbols to physical objects, thus promoting better

understanding. For example,

students in grade 5 must learn about decimal numbers.

Students make a common mistake

when comparing 0.7 and 0.56, thinking that 7 tenths is a

smaller number than 56

hundredths. This is because students think that a two-

digit number, such as 56

hundredths is larger than a one-digit number, 7 tenths.

That “rule” works for whole

numbers, but not decimals. If the students are asked to

build these numbers using a

manipulative such as base ten blocks, they can

immediately see that 7 tenths is larger than

56 hundredths. They connect the model to the concept

of the size of the numbers. With

many experiences building and representing using

manipulatives, students can deepen their

understanding of abstract math concepts.