Math Manipulatives: Making the Most of Our Math Kit
I purchased the Saxon Home Study Math Kit that is full of manipulatives to accompany our first grade math program. My kids are hands-on so I knew this would be a necessary addition to our studies. I didn’t know however, that I would use it as much as I do. The Saxon math program I purchased through Houghton Mifflin recommends this kit, and many of the lessons include activities that use the contents. And once you purchase the kit, you’re set for the next 3 years. Or four, if you purchase it for kindergarten, as K-3 math programs incorporate products from this kit into the curriculum.
Inside the kit you’ll find two rulers, a balance, linking cubes, a number chart, 2 pegboards with rubber bands, bear counters, pattern blocks, 4 sets of tangrams, two clocks, dominoes, color tiles, and more. You’re pretty much set if you’ve got this guy in your math ensemble – Oh! and it comes in a plastic storage box so you don’t have to figure out where you’re going to put everything. Even if you’re not using the Saxon math program, this kit is awesome and I highly recommend it.
Yes, we use it for our math assignments. And yes, I keep it up high on a shelf where tiny hands can’t reach it without permission. But it’s so much more than that. My son loves tangrams. Let me rephrase that. My son LOVES tangrams. He did them in kinder and it became a thing for him, so I was happy that they came with this kit. The other day I offered him 15 minutes of TV time if he finished his assignment in a timely manner and he asked if he could trade it for tangrams. What the heck? Sure! I searched for tangram puzzles online. There are lots of sites that have tangram puzzles but I wanted the kind that you can fit the pieces into rather than the kind you have to look at and recreate on the table. Education.com has a small but good selection of tangram puzzles so I printed some from them. Pattern blocks get a similar response in my house. They love the puzzle effect. So I printed pattern block puzzles, too.
My kids love Lego’s, but linking cubes serve a similar purpose and they will sit and create with linking cubes any chance they get. They also build domino creations on the floor. Sometimes pictures, sometimes domino towers, but they still have a hard time keeping them all standing. We use the balance for some of our science activities, and the bear counters are one of my preschoolers’ favorites. We’ve used everything in the kit at least once. In fact, the other day I needed a distraction for my little one so I could finish a lesson with my first grader and I gave her the whole box. I could have used a clean up crew at the end, but she had a great time balancing her bears and trying out all the fun colorful pieces in the math kit.
Do you use manipulatives for your math work? What are some of your favorite things to use?