Home > Maths > Manipulatives – the start of the journey

Manipulatives – the start of the journey

At #mathsconf19 I opted to go to a session by Pete Mattock (@MrMattock) that looked at using manipulatives to link abstract to concrete. I opted for this as manipulatives are something I’ve never been into and have always been quite cynical about, but I figured that as lots of people seem to speak highly of their use it couldn’t hurt to try and add them to the repertoire.

During Pete’s session he gave us some time to explore their use on tables. I was with some very nice people I didn’t know and they all were very experienced at using them and they managed to give me plenty of ideas for their use on top of the many great ones Pete had given me.

Roll forward a couple of weeks and I got my timetable for next year, for the first time in I can’t remember how long the number 7 appeared on it. And for the first time in even longer than that the number 7 was there with the equivalent code for a bottom set. I thought to myself “what an excellent place to start trying out manipulatives”. Then, as part of the schools Y7 catch up project the SLT lead for maths bought the department a number of manipulatives, including base 10, Cuisenaire rods, double sided counters and number sticks. I thought that the stars were aligning for this journey.

At the same time, I started wondering about the maths my daughter would be doing next year, when she goes into year 3. I downloaded the national curriculum and I happened across this book on the ATM website:

I bought it and had a read. There was some nice activities I thought I’d try and some used Cuisenaire rods. A few minutes in Amazon and 12.61 later I had ordered these:

I thought my daughter may have used them at school, but she had only used base 10, so we will be learning about them together. So far we have only used them to work on addition and subtraction, but she is very excited by them and I’m seeing some potential in them.

I know many of you will be more experienced in the use of manipulatives, so I’d love to hear how you use them. Please let me know on social media or in the comments. Also, if you know of any blog posts or academic articles on their use I would be grateful if you could signpost me to them. I’ll post again about manipulatives when I have done more with them.

Categories: Maths
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