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Teaching math is tough. And when variables enter the scene, the challenge enhances manifold. Educators adopt several ways to ease the learning procedures. Manipulatives, among different pedagogical tools, have got the nod of NCTM too.
Found to be effective in reducing math anxiety, enhancing concept retention, and scaffolding the concept build-up, manipulatives have proven their utility in teaching complex topics like probability, statistics, etc.
We have discussed online games for probability in one of our posts. Let’s shift our radar to manipulatives that can be used in classes and homes to make probability learning fun for all.
Manipulatives – adding more meaning to probability
Probability is the measurement of the possibility of the occurrence of an event. We all have rolled dice or flipped coins. Unknowingly, while doing so, we have created conditions that coincide with some principle of probability. As a student in the higher class, you may need to mug up formulas to solve probability problems. But, at an elementary level, you can pick up the concept tad easier way.
Manipulatives serve the need to embrace the idea of probability and understand its practical utility. While numbers drive us to data, operations, and calculations; probability takes us to subitizing observed through a magnifying lens. We can address questions like ‘what are the chances?’ with added confidence when manipulatives provide the learning support.
Probability is an important part of our real life, several examples make this statement quite evident. Manipulatives give you a modular peek into the ‘how’ part of this dictum.
So, let’s take a look at the best manipulatives that can allow us to smoothly transition into probability learning mode.
List of engaging manipulatives to learn probability
1. Six-Color Spinners
Spinners are research-supported pedagogical tools suitable for exploring the complex problems of probability. These take the sweat out of the learning process and allow one to engage deeply in grasping the probability. A number of probability problems can be understood with the help of spinners and the interactive sessions become easier to carry out.
The best utility of spinners likes in making the probability problems that look challenging, at a glance, more interesting for students. However, the students should be conversed with the factors like force, surface quality, etc. at the very start, to expect some difference in outcomes. Notwithstanding the difference in theory and practical demonstration, spinners have the qualities needed to offer an effective learning intervention to probability students.
Dice are probably the oldest manipulative we know. Its utility in probability is quite evident because the six sides have different numbers. The very first introduction of the concept of probability is made with the help of dice when you are curious to know what number will appear on rolling the dice.
Dice serves as effective math manipulative helping all students having different grasping abilities to reinforce their learning. Its use as probability manipulative is utilized while trying open-ended, frequentist, and classic approaches to learning this math concept.
3. Virtual Coin Flip Manipulative
Coin flip is an interesting, virtual manipulative available at Toy Theater. It is ideal support for teaching probability to beginners. The users of smart classrooms can employ it in the sessions in class and create activities to help students explore probability deeply. With simple activities like flipping the coin using not more than a click of a mouse or touchpad, you can drive students’ thinking into learning probability concepts.
Coin flip virtual manipulative is a hands-on learning tool for making tally sheets. You can use this classic approach to learning probability by counting the number of times heads or tails appear. The users can record their outcomes of the flips and understand various theories that explain the idea and usage of probability in decision-making, estimation, and other logical reasoning-based activities.
4. Counting Chips
Counting Chips are versatile manipulatives that can be used for probability activities. This manipulative is a great brain-teaser despite it being simple. The best utility of this learning tool lies in designing the probability activities accompanied by creating the head and tails score sheets. As a teacher, you will find it easy to explain the relationship between fractions and probability and to use this relationship in defining the odds of an event.
The counting chips offer the most comprehensive visual learning tool that can make learning probability fun and a lot more interesting. If you aspire to help kids show better participation and engagement in learning probability basics, you can depend on this manipulative.
5. Classroom Probability Kit
You get a complete probability practice kit in this wholesome pack. Comprising spinners, dice, chips, playing cards, dice, etc., you can design several probability activities without running short of resources. The best use of this manipulative kit lies in coming out with newer challenges every day. With some new challenges to solve, the students enjoy learning and look forward to probability sessions.
Great support for inciting curiosity, this probability manipulative can be used in multiple ways and helps bring all discrete basic probability concepts to actionable.
6. Tri-ominos Game
Tri-ominos offers gamified learning support for mastering the application of probability principles. The game is designed to stimulate thinking with probability at the core of the solution. You are given the challenge of making bridges and hexagons. Using the principles of probability, you can complete the challenges and emerge the winner in this game.
This gamified resource is suitable for probability beginners who want to learn the practical implications of this math concept. Tri-ominos stimulate mental capabilities to easily perform tasks like decision-making, strategy-making, and making patterns while using the learnings from probability.
7. Sequence Board Game
There is a lot of probability that you get to apply in the Sequence Board Game. It offers a palatable premise that helps you appreciate probability and its use in strategy-making. While homeschooling your kid on probability topics, you can employ this game to tease brains and come up with strategies to block opponents, fill options faster, and complete sequence before everybody emerges the winner.
The sequence board game is quite suitable for beginners as well as advanced learners. By driving the learners’ minds to think and apply probability to achieve the sequence, this game offers a practical learning tool while giving a fun-filled break from books.
Major takeaways from probability manipulatives
On closer inspection and thorough thinking, you will realize that probability manipulatives have a lot to offer in terms of learning. These manipulatives offer the best support to accomplish objectives like:
- Understanding the rationale behind the probability formulas
- Appreciating the use of probability in devising strategies and laying out the logic
- Applying probability in decision-making with added confidence
- Using probability in real life with ease
Manipulatives for learning probability can be your best bet at simplifying this topic for beginners. These are helpful in adopting a playful approach that takes away the math anxiety and replaces it with added curiosity to learn.
If you have your success stories where manipulatives helped you master probability, we would love to hear them. Please share the same in the comments!
I am Pratiksha Bhatt, Bachelor of Life Science, and Masters in Management Studies. I have done certification courses in early education counseling. I am a writer, a mother of a child with spelling difficulties which drove me to alternative resources of education like manipulatives and participatory activities. My areas of expertise are learning difficulties, alternative learning methods, and activity-based learning.