10 Must-Try Free Online Math Manipulatives

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Math manipulatives have been around us for years. Their use started rampantly after the implementation of the IDEA Act that directs educational institutes to be more inclusive in their approach. Students with learning difficulties need additional help in internalizing math concepts. Math manipulatives offer this much-needed alternative learning support which also helps in concept visualization (Furman, 2017).

We have discussed lots of options like manipulatives for counting, addition, subtraction, division, geometry and etc. in our previous posts. In this post, we go a bit technology-savvy and bring you online counterparts of math manipulatives that you can use in the shape of web apps on your devices.

Why online math manipulatives

Almost everything ranging from groceries to books, and jewelry to CD-ROMs are available online. Teaching materials like math games, calculators, and anchor charts have also occupied the online space. Keeping up with this technological boom in the education sector, developers have come with the idea of online math manipulatives. Thanks to technological breakthroughs; now you can find Cuisenaire rods, linking cubes, etc. available in the form of online web applications. The best benefits of online math manipulatives are:

  • Online manipulatives or virtual manipulatives are similar in effect as concrete manipulatives in teaching students with learning disabilities (Chamberlain & Park, 2017)
  • Allow kids to independently study and practice math concepts (Liggett, 2017)
  • Ubiquitous tool to study in hand; thus, students can continue more practice at home, or even while travelling (Bouck et al, 2012)

All these studies are pointing at the effectiveness of virtual manipulatives in helping students manage their studies despite the presence of MLDs. But, finding the best from the lot is not easy as all online math manipulatives designers claim them to be exceptional. Hence, to ease your searching woes, we have enlisted here the 10 best online math manipulatives that help students master the basic skills needed for tackling higher-level math topics.

Top 10 math manipulatives available online

1. Base 10 Blocks

coolmath4kids.com base 10 blocks

Online Base 10 blocks are an awesome learning tool that captivates the mind and drives critical thinking. This math manipulative is suitable for practicing basic math concepts like number sense and early math operations like adding and subtracting, dividing, multiplying.

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Further, the students can employ it for polishing their skills like making fractions, or finding place value. The icing on the cake comes in the form of ubiquitous access. So, whenever you are traveling and want a constructive engagement for the kids, you can hand them over these online base 10 blocks and make the best of that time. Continuous and more practice becomes easy, too, with these manipulatives.

App Link: Web App

2. Unifix Cubes

didax unifix cubes

Almost all children have seen and used concrete Unifix cubes that are easily available in toy shops. But, these are not merely toys. Their high engagement quotient makes these online manipulatives ideal for children who tend to avoid learning math.

The best use of Unifix cubes lies in intelligent intervention of concepts like addition and subtraction, greater than, smaller than, and equal to, etc. There is a pencil and eraser also provided to help kids associate the mathematical operations with their visual presentation. Thus, the learners can benefit by picking the operations and learn those in a more ingrained manner.

App Link: Web App

3. 10-row Rekenrek

toytheater 10-row Rekenrek

Rekenrek 10-row is one of the simplified types of Abacuses, but with multifold benefits. It is easier to understand and implement for teaching children basic math concepts. The color-coded beads can help in identifying the value of any number while differentiating smaller from bigger ones.

Other concepts easy to learn from Rekenrek 10-row manipulative are addition and subtraction, find missing addends, and how to arrive at a number using different bonds. This online teaching tool allows more practice, leading to better learning. When you want your tech-savvy math learners to use screen time in learning, you can provide them this virtual math manipulative.

App Link: Web App

4. Bear Counters

toytheater bear counters

Bear counters available online offer engaging learning support to preschoolers and primary-level math students. This math manipulative available online helps math beginners become familiar with the idea of data management and graphing.

You can use color-coded bears to sort, arrange and add up, or do several activities focused on learning math operations. Save the child the pain of stacking concrete bears or stumbling upon them by offering them this cleaner alternative and double up the joy of learning as well.

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App Link: Web App

5. Coins

mathsbot coin

Money manipulatives do ease the learning of budget and dealing in cash. But, the concrete bills tend to get soiled or torn, and the coins do need close supervision due to hazards attached to those. Thus, this online coin manipulative offers unlimited hours of learning minus the difficulties posed by concrete counterparts.

You can employ these to teach children how to identify coins of different currencies and find their corresponding values. So, learn to arrange, add, and calculate exchange with ease by employing online coins manipulatives as your learning support.

App Link: Web App

6. Polypad – Tangram

online polypad tangram

What about having a virtual pad that allows you to acquaint yourself with all geometrical figures? Learning disabilities can be of various types and poor motor skills also pose hindrances sometimes. Polypad-Tangram offers an effective learning tool that allows you to boost your spatial reasoning skills.

Using this tangram, you can learn how to match or identify different geometrical figures. Easy drag and drop support allows you to create patterns of your own, helping you have added comfort with concepts like shape and orientation, etc.

App Link: Web App

7. Fraction Strips for Kids

Fraction Strips for Kids

Fractions may confuse young math learners; but, they may learn better with visual assistance provided by online manipulatives. This fraction strips manipulative is an easy learning tool that allows young kids to learn a lot about how to compare fractions, find equivalents, and internalize terms like numerators and denominators.

In addition to the online activity premise, there is a video lesson provided. Thus, the kids are never devoid of any learning resource and absorb all ideas correctly, needed for learning and applying fractional values correctly.

App Link: Web App

8. Virtual Geoboard

Virtual Geoboard

We have explained geoboard activities in one of our posts. This is an online manifestation of that geoboard. By using band-like connecting material, a person forms a variety of structures on the concrete geoboard.

You can take the help of cues available in various diagram books, and create diagrams using this online geoboard. It augments commendably your learning on shapes. Caleb Gattengo’s invention that was focused on primary math learners continues to charm students with its appeal and promise of delivery.

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App Link: Web App

9. Virtual Dice

Virtual Dice

Dice is perhaps the oldest manipulative. Its simplicity and effectiveness in teaching math concepts, like counting, subitizing, etc. are quite pronounced. This manipulative is now available online too where a simulated environment is provided to the student. The learners can choose from digits or dots as per their preference in the online dice.

Teachers and parents can disseminate the idea of matching numbers and may build number sense by showing them dots corresponding with the number. This manipulative simulates the act of rolling dice which can be further implemented for teaching various math operations, greater than and less than concepts, and a lot more. A simple act of clicking on ‘Roll’ takes away all the hassle and kids enjoy changing images every time they click on ‘Roll’.

App Link: Web App

10. Number line manipulative

Number line manipulative

What does dodging numbers by 1s, 2s, or 3s or so on look like? If you want to answer any such kids’ questions, you can employ this number-line manipulative and give them the much-needed clarity. This online number line manipulative is best suited for learning numbers and their relative positions.

You can also introduce the concept of greater than and smaller than, and show kids what changes the act of adding and subtracting bring in the numbers’ values. Fun-filled learning is the best outcome of this virtual manipulative and can make kids more receptive to the idea of learning math concepts.

App Link: Web App

Summing up,

Enjoy the marvels of technological innovations in education through online math manipulatives. These manipulatives can allow you to have a break from various hassles that you might encounter with concrete dice, spinners, counting bears, etc. The only thing you need to take care of is screen time. So, design the teaching schedule so that the kids are not over-exposed to gadgets; it may help you have the best benefits at your disposal.


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