Manipulative...Do I, Dont I...Where to buy?

Everything from basic math up through high school!

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Manipulative...Do I, Dont I...Where to buy?

Postby txjarvis » Tue Aug 24, 2010 8:07 am

So, this will be my first year homeschooling my first grade son. He has been diagnosed ADD but we have taken him off of his meds. So, we need a more physical way to learn.

I have read in other places that manipulative teach the child to count on his fingers. I still count on my fingers, I "see" math, where my husband (who uses it every min of his work day) just knows his facts. I remember my mom drilling my math with me and I was never able to just memorize them. I "see" math in a whole different way than my husband. So, I am wondering, do I just drill my son or is it ok to understand math in a different way?

If manipulative are good for children (and adults) who see their math, where is the cheapest place to buy these materials? Also, which ones are they best type?

We were going to use MUS this year, but because it would be too expensive to peice all of my curric together, I went with a program that, unfortunatly, doesnt focus on math (My Fathers World). He is good in his math, and gets most of his understand from asking questions (relentlessly, all day).

Any and all help would mean the world to me!

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Postby hscoach » Tue Aug 24, 2010 10:44 am

Here are some links that might be helpful. ... Curriculum

You might want to check out a program I heard of recently called Math on the Level. Here is a link where I answered a question with some reviews of the program.

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understand math

Postby hollyb » Thu Aug 26, 2010 12:04 pm

It is my strong opinion that in the early years, kids need to be taught through as many senses as possible: hear it, see it, touch it. I used "Math-U-See" in the early grades. Some of my kids "ate up" the manipulative-approach, others didn't use it as readily, but all of them benefited by understanding each mathematical concept presented. We used manipulatives + "real life examples," (mostly in the form of word problems-both written and verbal.) Build concept on concept and move forward at your student's pace, when the proverbial light bulb goes on.

(An aside: Once my kids reached "Zeta" in Math-U-See, I moved to Rod & Staff Math)

Blessings to you and your new student! I'd love to hear how you do.

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Postby dkocur » Fri Aug 27, 2010 7:28 am

Hi txjarvis,

IMO manipulatives are great at teaching the concepts of math. However, in my own experience they were not very useful beyond that point. Your point about "seeing" math differently when you haven't memorized the math facts is spot on. It wasn't until my kids memorized the math facts that they really appreciated math.

For example, the lightbulb went off for my oldest one Saturday morning (shortly after she had mastered all the math facts) as I was cooking pancakes. ("Dad" always fixes a special breakfast each Saturday.) She looked at the stack of pancakes and asked, "how many pancakes are there?" I replied, "twenty five". She paused for a split second, looked up at me and said, "so we each get five pancakes." which was correct (25 / 5 = 5). Then she exclaimed, "Now I get why math is so important!" My point is that had she not memorized the math facts she wouldn't have "just realized" that each of use would get 5 pancakes.

Having said that, I wrote a computer program to teach my kids the math facts. (Why I wrote it instead of using one that was already out there is explained on my website.) It worked so well that I now sell it. When your child has a firm understanding of the concepts of addition and subtraction and you want them to memorize the facts I highly recommend my program which can be downloaded at

You might even want to use it yourself! It's never to late to learn. :D

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