Last Updated on October 12, 2023 by Editorial Team
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A polygon with four sides and angles summing up to 360 degrees is a quadrilateral. Now, simply take a manipulative of a quadrilateral-shaped structure in hand and try to revisit this statement. The latter is surely going to feel like a cakewalk. It is precisely why the manipulatives have risen to a higher reputation among both the teachers and students. In simple terms, the manipulative sifts the learning hurdles and offers pure concepts to absorb to the geometry beginners.
Let’s explore in this post:
- List of manipulatives to teach quadrilaterals easily
- Role of manipulatives in teaching quadrilaterals
Here we go!
List of manipulatives to teach quadrilaterals
1. Plastic pattern blocks
A common question that may appear in children’s minds is where the quadrilaterals are used. By doing various activities using pattern blocks, you can answer this question with undeniable proof. The basic use of geometry lies in building shape intelligence in beginners. Activities based on pattern blocks allow kids to explore their creative side and understand concepts like balance and symmetry.
This manipulative offers active learning to build confidence in identifying and making patterns. Learners can achieve a better grip on the principles of quadrilaterals and employ them in producing balanced and stable patterns. Make a pattern using color-coded blocks and find fractional values, or employ the blocks to produce newer shapes, the learning is bound to stay with kids for a long by doing several engaging projects. With regular practice and minimal intervention, you can see the child grooming into a shape-aware individual.
2. Cuisenaire Rods
Cuisenaire rods are one of the most versatile math manipulatives available. This manipulative offers an effective intervention tool for imparting practical knowledge of various math concepts to growing learners. In this set, you will find colored Cuisenaire sticks which have different lengths. While transitioning from the concept of length to making quadrilaterals, this manipulative offers awesome learning support. The manipulative teaches balancing to play games like Jenga, make mazes based on quadrilateral shapes, and also do creative designing by arranging these sticks in different ways.
Acquiring ease with quadrilaterals is one of the reasons for employing manipulatives in teaching related concepts. One may start by explaining the Cuisenaire rod as a concretized example of a quadrilateral (a rectangle to be precise), and then allow kids to dig deeper and come up with various shapes. Spatial intelligence, motor skills, and better ease with geometry concepts are a few crucial outcomes of using this manipulative. These skills help kids transition smoothly to complex problems on quadrilaterals and provide a relatable introduction to structures.
Tangram is an engaging puzzle that typically uses 7 structures or ‘tans’ to create new patterns. It stimulates the brain to think about various spatial arrangements but within restrictions. Hence, you learn to follow rules and to structure thinking according to the given set of limitations. It works as an effective manipulative to teach about quadrilaterals by allowing kids to explore this structure’s relationship with other figures. Concepts like How triangles are added to make a quadrilateral or vice versa, and the plane-space relationships become easier to grasp by solving tangram puzzles.
Tangram puzzles allow kids to master spatial and structural intelligence required for grasping quadrilateral concepts. It offers a friendlier introduction to quadrilaterals and ignites intellectual curiosity among kids. Usually employed as an engaging activity, tangram puzzles, either online or offline, can allow deeper introspection into parallelogram and square, which are two of the 7 ‘tans’ included in a set.
Manipulatives offer a doable alternative to drawing with pencils. If the child struggles with holding pencils or making shapes on paper, the next best alternative is available in the form of a geoboard. Look at the history of geoboard and you will find that this manipulative has long been used by educators to facilitate math instruction. In this board, a set of latex bands and a pegged board are provided. Since the pegs on the Geoboard are placed 1 cm apart, you can understand what the measurements look like in tangible form. Geoboards help develop a sense of structures and boost motor skills.
It may also be useful for demonstrating how the quadrilaterals of various types differ. You can provide the kids with cues and ask them to present the quadrilateral concepts based on the cues on the Geoboard. An enhanced sense of familiarity with quadrilaterals allows for forming a sturdy base that eases the understanding of little more complex problems based on these four-sided figures.
5. Geometric Shapes Building Set
Kids learn better when they are given the opportunity to gain hands-on experience on different subjects. The same holds true when learning quadrilaterals. This building set by Learning Resources is a fine manipulative to help kids acquire knowledge of various quadrilaterals and other geometric shapes.
The set includes curved and straight plastic sticks along with sufficient spherical connectors, which can be used to build a variety of shapes and structures. What makes this set even better is the fact that it can be used to create 2D as well as 3D shapes. So, you see, the possibilities seem endless as kids try their hands on this manipulative and let their creative juices flow.
The manipulative is great for individual and group activities at home and in the classroom. Those tiny pieces may seem too much to handle, but the large plastic box makes storage a breeze. All you need to do is drop all the pieces in the jar, place the lid, and keep it ready for next use. Overall, this manipulative is a durable product and a must-have for a fun and immersive learning experience.
Role of manipulatives in teaching quadrilaterals
Quadrilaterals are geometric figures. Beginners do feel a bit boggled when introduced to geometric terms and definitions. The manipulatives offer a concretized presentation of concepts. It benefits in the following ways:
- Manipulatives help us appreciate the relevance of learning geometrical figures. Children can understand that the geometric figures are something they will deal with practically in real-life scenarios too. By showing how quadrilaterals form integrating elements of various structures, manipulatives bridge the gap between understanding and application of concepts.
- Manipulatives promote effective conceptual learning. Since a lot of gamified activities are possible to do with manipulatives, young learners can grasp difficult concepts like symmetry, congruence, etc. without feeling the stress.
- Manipulatives allow us to learn through collaboration. When the teachers or parents and students participate to create a structure with manipulation, they exchange ideas and add to each other’s learning too.
- Manipulatives boost the creative thinking required to understand and apply quadrilaterals. Enhanced spatial intelligence allows learners to accustom themselves to perceptual variability and create more practical shape patterns in which quadrilaterals are employable.
Quadrilaterals are an important concept that needs fair and complete understanding. To help students with different learning paces and abilities, manipulatives are employed. With a better approach and an intelligent mix of activities possible to do with manipulatives, teachers can achieve enhanced outcomes. It is advisable to use both manipulative and non-manipulative teaching sessions so that conceptual understanding and application ease remain at a balanced level.
- Kmetová, M., & Nagyová Lehocká, Z. (2020). Using Tangram as a Manipulative Tool for Transition between 2D and 3D Perception in Geometry. Mathematics, 9(18), 2185. https://doi.org/10.3390/math9182185
- Kratzer, R. O., & Allen, B. (1975). Geoboard activities for primary grades. The Arithmetic Teacher. https://doi.org/10.5951/at.22.8.0625
- Zahra, Andriyani & Juniati, Dwi. (2020). Learning the relation between quadrilateral using geometry’s puzzle for blind students. Journal of Physics: Conference Series. 1470. 012029. 10.1088/1742-6596/1470/1/012029.
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.