My Favorite Math Manipulatives

math mani headerI’ve always believed that early math learning does not require  a formal math curriculum.  When my children were young,  we had lots of fun exploring math concepts through manipulative play.   Let me share a few of my favorite math manipulatives.

1. Every homeschool math explorer needs a balance.  With simple play, understanding of the concepts of balance, heavier, lighter, more, less and even will easily become clear.  Most of my other favorite manipulatives have been weighed in this balance.

2 & 3.  Colorful counters. The foam cubes(2) were purchased in a large pack for a dollar a great value!  I’ve also seen wooden ones that are very nice.  The rubber animal counters (3) are just plain fun.    A set of counters is great for weighing, patterning, matching,  one-to-one correspondence, sorting/classification and beginning addition/subtraction.

4. Geoboard.  Creating designs on a geoboard  requires more critical thinking than one may realize. I’ve noticed that even my middle & high school aged children have not outgrown enjoying  our set of geoboards.

math manipulatives
Math manipulatives don’t have to be expensive – start with the dollar bin at your favorite store.

5.  Pattern blocks.  I inherited these transparent pattern blocks from a teacher friend many years ago.  These are invaluable!  You can find lots of great pattern block printables that your children will enjoy for many years.

6. Dominoes.   You can make up matching games using dominoes, work on one-to-one correspondence and practice beginning addition.  Don’t forget to line them up and knock them over!

7.  Connecting cubes. These are my favorites for patterning, non-standard measurement and learning to count by fives and tens.

Looking to add to your collection of math manipulatives?   Try checking the dollar store and used homeschool materials websites.   Also, try searching for “printable math manipulatives” – there are lots available.   If you have a handy/crafty friend or relative, they can make you a set of wooden counters, as well as a geoboard.

Do you have some math manipulatives that are your favorites?   Leave a comment and tell me about how you use them in your homeschool.

2 thoughts on “My Favorite Math Manipulatives

  1. Awesome! I love your notes and scale for balance. We have a small one, not as exciting as the one on your table. I love the larger manipulatives too, and I will look for some. We use a lot of manipulatives for counting as well.
    December, we used small plastic Christmas bowls and Christmas baskets to hold candy canes, snowmen, penguins, gingerbread men, colored bells, and more. They love choosing counters for math. We also use nature objects like small pine cones, large seeds, rocks, beans, etc.
    The children take horseback riding lessons and one parent brought miniature horses from Knowledge Tree. I also use magnetic ladybugs for our kindergarten girl who loves ladybugs. She’s very creatively, for instance, she sticks them around the top of her pink container and count–first, second, third, etc. She also has a tray of tiny sheep for counting. I’m looking for more Bible related items. My grandson loved marbles and rocks in kindergarten. He had special trays to count marbles by fives. He’s in second grade now and his favorite counters are the mini football helmets. I find math counters to fit their personalities. The children usually keep their own special counters in their personal cubby. The classroom has shared wooden cubbies used for science and math as well. My daughter bought all the cubbies at Target. I shop at thrift stores, Target, Goodwill, and museums during fieldtrips. I’ve purchased counters such as counting bugs from stores that sell school supplies.
    The Olive Tree Classical Christian Home School, Olive Branch, MS


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