By Gaby Merediz
Kids love manipulatives. Small, colorful items can be used as tools for learning math, and they’re also great for practicing fine motor skills. This summer, my 5-year-old was showing a lot of interest in math, especially addition. I wanted to help prepare him for kindergarten and respond to his interests by helping him learn with some of his favorite manipulatives. It turns out that it was a huge hit.
If you’re working on addition with your child, break out the manipulatives to make math fun.
This is what you’ll need:
- Manipulatives: Blocks, lacing beads, gears, building wheels, etc. (We used wood pattern blocks)
- Large paper
- Something to write with
- Deck of cards (optional)
Step 1 – Gather the manipulatives
Pull out enough manipulatives to use for your learning. I knew that we weren’t going to add anything higher than 9, so I got 36 pattern blocks (Because you’ll need enough pieces for each part of the equation).
Tips for parents: Have your child help count out the manipulatives you will be using.
Step 2 – Prepare the paper
On a sheet of paper, draw O + O = O. The circles should be large enough to hold all of the manipulatives that you will use.
Tips for parents: Have your child draw the circles to practice drawing shapes. Explain what the + sign and = sign mean.
Step 3 – Start adding
You can either randomly pick which numbers to add together, or you can use a deck of cards. We selected two cards from a deck, and we placed those under the circles on the paper to decide what numbers we would add together.
Count out the number of manipulatives that corresponds with the first playing card, and place them in the first circle of your equation. Then, count out the number of manipulatives that corresponds with the second playing card, and place those in the second circle.
Add them together by indicating that you will now add all of the manipulatives from each circle together. Count out the number of manipulatives that matches the total, and place them in the circle that represents the sum.
Tips for parents: The first time you go through this, model all of the steps for your child, taking time to emphasize the counting and matching of numbers.
Step 4 – Writing equations
Depending on how old your child is, you can practice writing the equation on a separate piece of paper.
Tips for parents: If your child is having trouble writing numbers, write them out yourself and have your child trace them. The other option is to write out the equation using dotted lines and have your child trace those.