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How to Use Manipulatives in the Mathematics Classroom

X Lynn Wolf A professional educator in Texas, Lynn Wolf began her journalism career in 1993. She has published in the "New Orleans Times-Picayune" and the "Monroe News-Star." Wolf holds a Bachelor of Arts in mass communications from Loyola University New Orleans and a Master of Liberal Arts from Southern Methodist University. By Lynn Wolf, eHow Contributor updated January 04, 2011

Three-dimensional shapes and other math manipulatives can help students grasp abstract concepts in math class. Students often struggle to understand the abstract mathematics concepts taught in elementary, middle and high school. During these years, students are still developing the physiological ability to think abstractly, even as they are expected to demonstrate mastery of academic goals and objectives that require abstract thinking. You can use concrete, tangible objects, known as "manipulatives," in the mathematics classroom to bring these abstract concepts to life for students. Difficulty: Moderate

Instructions
1 Use colorful math counters to teach addition and subtraction. Find counters that will fit your students' needs. Younger students might enjoy counters that are solid colors and shaped like fun things, such as animals, fish, food or cars and trucks. Older students

might prefer different colored chips or linking cubes. Model for students how to gather, count and classify these objects and then allow them to practice on their own or in small groups. Then, use the objects to demonstrate addition and subtraction. Students can use these manipulatives to help them conceptualize problems on assignments or tests. 2 Use two- or three-dimensional shapes and pattern blocks to teach geometry concepts. Younger students will benefit from seeing and holding either flat or three-dimensional shapes such as circles, triangles, squares and rectangles as they learn to recognize and name them. Use three-dimensional cubes, pyramids, prisms, cones and spheres to teach older students how to count faces, edges and vertices. Also use these objects when teaching students to calculate surface area and volume. 3 Use toy money when solving word problems. Students sometimes better understand addition, subtraction, multiplication and division when teachers use money and purchasing items as examples. For example, some students will more easily recall that four quarters equals one dollar than that 4 x 25 = 100. When asking students to complete word problem assignments or assessments, allow them to use toy money to work out the problems before selecting an answer. 4 Use toy clocks when teaching students how to tell time and the concept of elapsed time. Teach students the difference between the minute and hour hands on the clock. Show students how the hands move to display time. Model how to move the hands to display different times of day. Allow students to practice this activity. Upon mastery of this skill, introduce the idea of elapsed time---the amount of time that passes between a start time and an end time. Demonstrate how the hands on the clock move as time passes. Allow students to count the minutes---either by ones or fives---between the beginning and ending times. 5 Use color-coded fraction and decimal manipulatives when teaching students to order, compare and perform operations with fractions. Use color-coded and linking fraction towers to help students learn to make a whole out of different sets of fractions and to help them create equivalent fractions. You also can use these to teach the decimal and percent equivalents for different fractions, for instance, that 1/4 is equivalent to .25 or 25 percent. Color coding also helps reinforce the idea that students must find a common denominator before adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing fractions. Read more: How to Use Manipulatives in the Mathematics Classroom | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/how_7730403_use-manipulatives-mathematicsclassroom.html#ixzz1NXyBOaEW