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LoveElemInNY's Message:

Hi all! I'm currently taking a class that is requiring me to create 16 homemade math activities with manipulatives that I make myself.XThere is a list of topics I have to cover, but I can pretty much use my good judgment. These activities are for 1st-6th grade use. If anyone has any suggestions for me, I would REALLY appreciate it!! Thanks so much!

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Discussion Review (newest messages first)
Mrs. O 01-30-2009 08:59 PM

Spray paint large lima beans on one side. When dry, you give the children 7 beans or whatever fact family you are working on at the time. They shake the beans and write the addition family that goes with the result. For example, when they shake and roll out their 7 beans, they may get 3 red and 4 white so they would write 3+4=7.

These could also be used as counters or with a BINGO game.

MarvelousGirl 01-30-2009 08:24 PM

I believe you are referring to Cuisenaire rods. Each length has its own color, and they can be used to teach fractions, multiplication/division, addition/subtraction, etc. They do not have numbers on them.

momallen 04-06-2008 07:24 PM

Tam Jo,
First I'm not sure if your posts will get many responses - you may want to make a new thread... the only reason I saw your post was because I had bookmarked it and it popped up...

I guess I don't understand what you are doing with the blocks...
Can you go into more details of how the "game" is played?

It sounds like a cool game.
My suggestion:
come up with a way for you to change the numbers... could you put velcro on the blocks and on the numbers that way you can change the blocks as you "change the game"

Does this make sense?

I think that is why the suggestion is to not put actual numbers on... so you can change as needed.


TamJo 04-06-2008 07:15 AM

I'm attemping to make Missing blocks. I got the idea when I was looking through a worksheet book. It had 3-d blocks (rectangle shaped) in several different lengths. I've taken the worksheet and turned into a "real-life" manipulative.
Using square rods (purchased from a hardware store) I just cut them down to various sizes. Sanding down the edges. With that said I also had to make sure that the blocks matched up. So if one was "2 inches" then another two blocks had to match.
Does this make any sense?

I've heard not to put numbers on math manipulatives, so do I or not? The worksheet had "missing numbers" on some of the blocks that is what drew me to it. Does anyone have an opinion?

momteach310 02-01-2008 09:48 AM

Do a search for Mr. Gallon Man. It is really great for capacity. I have one made - then the kids all make one too. I also have a lot of 'I Have..Who Has" cards for several math subjects. You can also search on line for these. I just made some for money. I bought coin stickers and put different amounts on the cards and then wrote them up. The kids really like them and they are cute. They can be made for any subject.
I also have coin puzzles. I took colored index cards and wrote the coin amount on the left and the coins on the right and then cut them in half with a zig-zag or whatever. Give the cards to students and they put each half together like a puzzle. Easily adaptable to other math concepts.
Recently I saw where someone took a sentence strip type paper - not as long though - and folded the two sides in towards the middle. She used them for math fact families - put a number on each side and when you open the flaps you see the answer the answer. There are other ways to open/close it to show the fact family.

CindyLynn 01-31-2008 04:35 PM

I used the colorful craft foam sheets found at stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby. You can cut it on school paper cutters. I make number tiles, tangrams, and counters.

readerabbit 01-31-2008 01:02 PM

Collect milk caps. Different colors. You know there is one color for skim milk and another for whole milk etc. ( even the tea jugs have colored caps as well as orange juice ) Get friends to save. You can use them for counters, making patterns. If you have the flat ones you can put a magnet on them to be used on a magnet board. Activity show the flash card and the student puts the answer down with the number of caps. Even is the caps as money exchange, write numbers on them for younger grades to put the number in order or the older ones to X with.
You can use them to make a bar/pic/graph. There are so many ways to use them and so simple.

JKB 01-30-2008 08:31 PM

I took card stock and made a set individual cards for the digits 0-9. I laminated them, so they would last longer. Then, when I am teaching place value, I give each child a set of the cards, along with some elbow macaroni.

I used these in several ways. First of all, I would call out a number such as 1,943 and the children had to lay that number out on their desk. (They used an elbow macaroni noodle for the comma.)

Another activity I did with these.....I wrote a number in expanded form on my overhead and they had to form the standard form with their cards. (I would write something like 20,000 + 1,000 + 700 + 40 + 6 and they would take their cards and place them as 21,746.)

Later, I would write numbers in words on my overhead and the children would lay them out.

The cards were also great for playing the Mystery Number game. I would give clues such as:

I am thinking of a three digit number:

The digit in the tens column is a 3.
The number in the ones column is 2 less than the digit in the tens column.
The number in the hundreds column is 6 more than the digit in the tens column.
What is my number? (931)

Now, we use them for multiplication practice. I will say something like show me the product for 6 x 7. It's just another way to practice without pencil and paper.

Hope these ideas are helpful.


LoveElemInNY 01-30-2008 05:14 PM

Thank you all SO incredibly much for your quick and absolutely wonderful responses! I am so excited to start working on my manipulative kit now! I can't tell you all how much I appreciate your help! If anyone else has any other ideas, I'm always looking for more ideas. Thank you all so much again!
-Sara 01-30-2008 04:07 PM

Get two different colors of straws. Cut ten decimeters. Put them on a string in alternating colors. Use florist tape and a bead on each end. Voila! You've got a very eye-catching meter stick.

Angie 01-30-2008 07:48 AM

We make base ten blocks out of that plastic stuff you use for yarn.. has all the small squares on it. It is a plastic sheet and you can cut designs out of it and weave the yarn in it. Sorry, I don't know what it is called. We cut our hundreds and our tens out of it. you could even glue them together to make thousands.

Luv2TeachK-6 01-30-2008 07:18 AM

During my student teaching, I made laminated life size base-10 blocks out of blue poster board. I put heavy duty magnets on the back of them so I could use them on the blackboard. My CT didn't use an overhead projector at all, so it was a pain to ask the other teachers for theirs especially when they used them all the time.

Shemesh 01-30-2008 06:57 AM

A great website for ideas is
In my undergrad Elem. Math we created a stepbook to dsiplay mode,median, range, etc. and a measurement man.

Hope this helps

johnsju 01-29-2008 05:30 PM

When we began learning multiplication facts, I made these for my strugglers. I cut a bunch of circles out of construction paper and laminated them (you don't have to laminate...I just wanted them to last). I bought a bag of beans to use as counters. I explained that when you see a multiplication problem, the first factor is the number of cirlces needed. The second factor is the number of beans to put in each circle. For example: 5 X 7=5 circles with 7 beans in each. This was a pretty big hit in my class.

K-Jeanne 01-29-2008 04:55 PM

Use beans as loose ones and then glue 10 beans on a craft stick for a 10-stick.

Paint one side of beans red. Using a small handful you can use these to create addition/subtraction sentences.

NCP 01-29-2008 04:12 PM

Take a 100's chart and copy it on two different colors of paper. Cut strips horizontally and tape every other color together into a long train. So 1-10 would be white, 11-20 would be green, 21-30 would be white, 31-40 would be green, etc. Then cut two slits in an index card and fish the train through.

Uses: use in 1st grade to help kids with number sense. Show them a number in the window and see if they can name the number that comes next, or before. You can also use it to help kids cross decades (after 39 is....)

Take some poster board and fold in half so you have a piece about 15" x 4". Cut three doors in on the front flap, like a flip book. Underneath make some sentence strips with three numbers on them. Slide them underneath and flip the doors open for the kids to guess the numbers. Uses are similar to those with the strips.

Good luck.

trexteach 01-29-2008 04:08 PM

If permitted, you could purchase some blank dice, or larger cubes, and put various math facts, fractions, percents, etc. on each side. You can come up with a variety of directions for use.

For example:
*On fraction dice, you could give the direction that two players each roll one die. Whoever has the larger fraction wins a point.
*On the same fraction dice, you could have each player roll two dice and add/subtract/multiply them to get their score for that round.

There are SO many games you can make out of these cubes. IF you cannot buy them, you could make them out of laminated construction paper.

You could even include that you're going to differentiate by passing out leveled dice. Ex. Green dice=easier facts; Yellow dice=average difficulty; Red dice=harder/more challenging facts.

ConnieWI 01-29-2008 03:53 PM

Have you read Grandfather Tang's Story? This is a story told with tangrams. You could make tangrams from cardstock or tagboard, and then make tangram puzzles for the animals in the story. As you read the story (the second time), your students could complete the tangram puzzles.

You could also use the tangrams and design A, B, C for each letter of the alphabet.

Geometry dominoes would also be a great idea. Make domino cards. Begin by listing all kinds of geometry words and have pictures to match each one. Examples: one half could be a square, the other half could have the word rectangle, one half could be a picture of a cone, the other half could be the word rectangular prism. Be sure your words match your pictures.

You could also make dominoes for fractions. The fraction would be on one half of the card, and a picture would be on the other half. The pictures could be different shapes that are shaded to match the fractions you are using...circles, squares, rectangles, pentagons, etc.

LoveElemInNY 01-29-2008 03:36 PM

Hi all! I'm currently taking a class that is requiring me to create 16 homemade math activities with manipulatives that I make myself.XThere is a list of topics I have to cover, but I can pretty much use my good judgment. These activities are for 1st-6th grade use. If anyone has any suggestions for me, I would REALLY appreciate it!! Thanks so much!

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