Bright Ideas-Motivating Math Manipulatives

Mar 9, 2014

This is the first year I have heard these words from my students about story problems.  (Actually, it is the first time I have felt this way about story problems)  What is the difference?
 I wish I would have used this Bright Idea years ago!

All year long I have been posting about our individual themes for problem solving (under problem solving with story boxes) but today I want to focus on our math manipulatives for story problems and how motivating they have been for our students.  For each theme, my teammate (Natalie) and I created manipulatives to match.  We really feel that this has helped our students to visualize and connect to the problems.  This visualization helps them to determine if it is an addition, subtraction, multiplication, or missing addend problem. 

 So jumping right in....Bus Theme

 These are just lids.  I used a Sharpie and some stickers to make them look like people.  We used these manipulatives in our small groups for each story problem.  Our students used the lima beans below as their "people."

Fall theme:

The pumpkins and ghosts are just buttons that we found at Joann Fabrics.  Then we used spider rings but cut off the ring part.  These were small and could be moved around quickly!

Giving theme:
These "gift boxes" were made using the cube blocks.  We had our students paint all the blocks with sparkly red and gold paint.  Then we glued ribbons on some of the "gifts."
This theme included some problems with groups of tens and ones.  So we wrapped up some of the rectangular prism blocks.  Our students knew that each of these large packages contained 10 small gifts.
Teddy Bear Store Theme:
We introduced this theme by asking the students to be the teddy bears.  They each held up these sticks with the bears attached.
 For individual practice they used little bear manipulatives.

All of these materials have helped to bring our instruction to life this year.  What kind of materials do you use to help your students visualize story problems?  We would love to add more ideas to our collection!

Thanks for joining me for the Bright Ideas Blog Hop!

Next fellow Ohio blogger, Kate, from EduKate and Inspire!  She will describe a very engaging writing and art project with shaving cream snowmen! Just click on her image below to head on over there.
Enjoy the hop! I can't wait to learn from everyone's different BRIGHT ideas!


  1. I love these cute manipulatives! I like how they are inexpensive and easy to find all the materials to make them.

  2. Okay, your little lids with mustaches are so, so cute! I think these have got to help your students really be able to visualize what is happening in each math problem- which is half the battle to getting them to solve it! Thanks for sharing :)

    Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

  3. That's precious. It's so important for kids to have hands-on experiences in math! Great way of using manipulatives!

    Buzzing with Ms. B

  4. I'll be adding lids to my list of things to save! I think they are my favorite manipulative so far! :) After seeing this Blog Hop, it looks like I have a lot of reading to do. ;)
    I'm Not Your Grandpa, I'm Your Teacher

  5. You have been so busy! I love the little lima beans people. I think the "giving theme" is my favorite, though. So awesome! :)


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