We all know that two plus two equals four. However, there was a point in our lives where even solving that simple equation would have been incredibly difficult for us. In primary school hands-on math is one of the best ways to learn math facts and increase skills. However, math manipulatives don’t come cheap, but there is a way to get math manipulatives for less.
Manipulatives are for Counting!
Beyond math manipulative being expensive, many students will see them as toys. It is a fair assumption considering that math manipulatives look and feel like game pieces. However, because they are for learning, it’s important to remind students the manipulatives of this fact! While this might take some time and patience, students will come to understand this through guidance.
Find Math Manipulatives for Less by Using What You Have
When you purchase math manipulatives, a lot of things can happen. For one, if you order online, they can take a while to arrive. Secondly, if they get lost or accidently slipped into a pocket, it is a bigger loss for your pocketbook. That’s why finding everyday items can be incredibly helpful! Anything from the caps of markers that are dry to milk jug caps can be a math manipulative.
The Benefits of Everyday Math Manipulatives
While using regular math manipulatives can be great, there are many benefits to using everyday objects in your classroom. One of the biggest perks to using everyday objects are the connections student can make. So often we think of math as an isolated subject. However, math is all around us. When you use everyday objects as math manipulatives, not only do you have less expensive manipulatives available to you, you also have natural connections happening all the time.
You can also keep this in mind when you create math manipulatives. For example, if you are working on fractions, you might want to create several different paper pizzas out of a paper plate or two. This is not only something simple to create, but it also gives students an easy connection they can all make because everyone knows about pizza!
Collecting Math Manipulatives for Less
When it comes to collecting math manipulatives, it is similar to collecting junk or junk jobs as I like to call it. What do I look for and how do I get all my junk? Simple. I ask families and others for help! I teach in a pretty low-income area and families can’t always give money. However, they can donate milk jug lids, dried up marker lids, a box of dry macaroni, buttons, cards for games and a variety of other things as well. This way parents are involved in their child’s learning which is always a win!
Another way to get more “junk” is to do a junk drive. Make a list of all the everyday objects you are looking for and have a drive in your school. Whichever class brings the most, can get a little prize for their hard work! Never be afraid to use social media to ask for simple things like the caps off of markers that are dried up or pop bottle lids. You would be amazed how many people would come to your rescue with things they have lying around the house.
Find Storage Solutions for Your Math Manipulatives
Once you have acquired all of this “stuff,” you’re going to need a place to put it! When I first started collecting things, I put everything into Ziploc baggies. However, these bags did get worn out fast and start to break. That’s when I started using the inexpensive to go containers from the dollar store. These are very inexpensive and have been durable with my students. Even though these work well, students shaking them too much can break the container. Therefore, it is important to establish expectations with the math manipulative.
Getting math manipulatives for less is simple when you get the school, community, and parents involved. I started collecting various items nearly 20 years ago and still use so much of it today. So, if you’re struggling with teaching math or losing manipulative pieces, look no further than your everyday household objects.
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