Are you looking for fun ways to use manipulatives in the classroom this year? One of my fondest early elementary memories is when the teacher would pull out the counter bears. Do you remember those? As my own children are growing I’ve discovered that manipulatives extend far beyond just bears. Oriental Trading sent me animal shaped manipulatives in exchange for this post and my kids and I have had a lot of fun playing with them.
With school starting back soon I’d like to share some fun ways to use manipulatives. Perhaps you are a homeschool mom looking for ideas to teach your hands on learner or perhaps you are a seasoned teacher who can give plenty of ideas to others. Either way, I’d like to encourage you to share this post with others because learning should be fun.
Fun Ways To Use Manipulatives In The Classroom
Skip Counting is the stepping stone to learning multiplications. You properly know it by “counting by fives” or “counting by tens”. This is a concept that without a visual aid many children struggle with.
Of course, before you can skip count you must be able to count the traditional way, one plus one. Even then having a visual aid makes all of the difference in the world. For parents, this simple step can be taken at home with children from a young age. With our own children, my husband and I would count out their snacks or vitamins for them eventually going from saying “one, two, three” to saying “one Cheerio plus one more Cheerio is two Cheerios®”. Children in younger elementary still greatly benefit from the visual aid of seeing that one bear plus one bear is the same as saying two bears.
Just as manipulatives offer a visual aid for addition they offer the same visual help for children who are learning subtraction.
Are you looking to teach your children the difference between an inch and a foot this year? If so, how about seeing how many of their animals make up each. This is also a great time to use greater than and less than concepts.
I’m blessed to have children with incredible imaginations and it’s a skill set that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Something that I find to be beneficial to them is to have a quiet time set aside each day where they read a book or play with certain toys. Many public school teachers see the benefit of imaginative play and the positive impacts that it has with social skills and studying. If you are homeschooling this year I would still encourage you to let your younger children have time set aside for imaginative play.
If you are homeschooling children in multiple grade levels then you could use this time of imaginative play to let the younger ones cool down in between lesson sessions as their attention span isn’t’ as developed.
So, the thing that I adore about this set of animal manipulatives that Oriental Trading sent my way is that they are different types of animals. This allows for many grouping options. Children can group by sheep and ducks or by blue sheep and orange sheep.
Sort by Color
Of course while on the subject of grouping what better way to start grouping than by sorting colors!
I’m not sure why I didn’t think of patterns. It was my son who thought of patterns! I love that kid. He had so much fun creating patterns and once again with the variety of options in this set the patterns can become quite elaborate.