The Importance of Using Manipulatives Using Manipulatives During Math Instruction The use of manipulatives during math instruction is instrumental in building conceptual understanding. Children who use manipulatives and pictorial materials to represent a mathematical concept are more likely to understand the concept.Children’s attitudes towards mathematics are also improved when teachers effectively use manipulatives to teach difficult concepts (Sowell, 1989; Thompson & Lambdin, 1994). When using manipulatives during mathematics instruction, teachers play an integral role in connecting concrete and visual representations to abstract concepts. The picture above demonstrates how Cuisenaire Rods can be used in primary grades to explore the associative property of addition using the Concrete-Representational-Abstract approach. For more lessons using manipulatives to teach number concepts in primary grades, check out Hands on Standards, Grades 1-2 from our T-TAC ODU Library. For more information on how to incorporate manipulatives into instruction, watch this free webinar presented by ETA Hand 2 Mind: Putting Manipulatives to Work, Part 1: Developing Number Sense K-5 with Cuisenaire Rods, Rekenreks and Place Value Chips. For an overview of the Big Ideas in Number Sense K-3 and resources for Number Sense activities, view A Guide to Effective Instruction in Mathematics Kindergarten to Grade 3: Number Sense and Numeration.
Sowell, E. (1989). Effects of Manipulative Materials in Mathematics Instruction. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 20, 498-505.
Thompson, P.W., Lambdin, D. (1994). Concrete materials and teaching for mathematical understanding. Arithmetic Teacher, (May), 556-558.