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Math Manipulatives Review
Maggie Estabrooks

Elementary Math Methods
Shaunda Wood
March 2 2017

Attribute blocks:

Attribute blocks are different shaped blocks that come in a variety of sizes and thickness. One

reason I chose to review attribute blocks was because it was something I was introduced to

during my first practicum. During a patterning unit, I used them to see if students could

understand what pattern attributes are if they could make a pattern with three different attributes.

For a lot of students it is easier to work with patterns when they have something physical to

represent it. They are simple to use and it is a hands on method for students to build patterns.

They can also be used for student learning transformational geometry, prisms, properties of

shapes (2D and 3D), and spatial sense. They can also be used from grades k-4 so they get a lot of

use during the elementary years in math class.

Base-ten blocks:

Base-ten blocks are one of the most commonly used math manipulatives in elementary schools.

The blocks come in small cubes (represents 1 unit), rods (represents 10 units), flat pieces

(represents 100 units) and a large cube (represents 1000 units). They can be used for a variety of

math concepts including; fractions, decimals, counting, adding, subtracting, multiplying,

dividing, and patterns. I chose this manipulative because it was common and it was something

that I remember using when I was in school. This manipulative gives students a visual

representation of the numbers that they are working with which helps a lot. One example of now

they are used is for learning place value concepts. Students can use the base-ten blocks to

represent the different parts of the decimal (flat piece = 1, rod = 0.1, and small cube = 0.01).

When using hands on activities like this one, teachers can see students understanding, especially

if they can do problems without the manipulatives but they are still there incase they need them.


I chose to review dominos as a manipulative because I’ve never thought of using them in a

classroom until this year. Dominos are small plastic rectangle with 1-6 dots on each end. They

can be used when students are learning to add, subtract, multiply, use fractions, use decimals, and

make patterns. They are wonderful because they are a diverse manipulative that can be used

throughout K-5. One activity that I learned for fractions for my peer teaching was ordering

fractions. Students would use the middle line of a domino like the line between the number of a

fraction. They would take all the dominos and try to put the “fractions” in order (ex: ¼, ½, ⅔).

They are not a manipulative that helps students with the task at hand like some other

manipulatives but they are used a different way to practice mathematical concepts.

Pattern block:

Pattern blocks are blocks that come in a variety of shapes (hexagon, triangles, diamonds,

square...etc). Each shape is also in a distinct color so students can tell them a part that way before

they learn the names of shapes. I chose to review pattern blocks because they are really useful in

math and they can be used from kindergarten all the way to grade 8. They are most commonly

used during patterning units, similar to attribute blocks but for simpler patterns. When students

are learning about patterns by shape or color the pattern blocks are used as a hands on

manipulative. They can also be used students are learning about area, tessellation, perimeter,

geometry, fractions, angles, properties of shapes and spatial sense. One of my favorite activities

with these blocks was to let students explore, have them see how many triangle (or other shapes)

could fit into the hexagon.

Snap cubes:

Snap cubes small centimeter cubes that comes in a variety or colors. They are called snap cubes

because they can connect together. I chose to review this manipulative because it was by far the

most commonly used manipulative in my first practicum. These cubes could be used in all kinds

of ways and the students loved using them. We used them mainly for adding numbers to find

“partners” to 10 and 20. During this unit, we always had them around in stacks of 10 so students

could use them if needed. It was a great tool for them to see that if they counted up to 8 on the

cubes, how many more to 10? 2. These cubes are also great to use for subtracting, patterns,

numeration, mean, volume, division, multiplication, fractions, and probability. They are

appropriate for almost every topic in math, they are easy for kids to use and they can be used for

grades K-5.