Top 10 manipulatives for excelling algebra

Last Updated on May 22, 2023 by Editorial Team

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Contrary to popular belief, we use Algebra quite often in our daily lives. There are many examples that establish this fact. And that’s why learning Algebra and its application is important. Manipulatives come as an easy rescue when you want to introduce Algebra to kids. Algebra involves formulae, calculations, and expressions and all these can become too overwhelming when the child needs help in handling basic math. So, manipulatives help connect with these overwhelming algebraic features in a far easy and relatable manner helping a child develop a liking for it.

With the help of manipulatives, you are making identifying, adding, subtracting, and other basic operations easier to grasp for your child. Let’s find out more about manipulatives for Algebra.

Why manipulatives for algebra teaching?

Manipulatives, by the way of providing easy relatability with concepts, enhance the learning capabilities of the minds of the children. A formula written on paper can be scary, but the one modeled into tangible objects induce engagement, connectivity, and thus, easy retrieval for application.

We’ve curated a list of the top 10 manipulatives for Algebra that have helped parents or teachers all across the globe in simplifying things for children facing difficulty in learning mathematics.

Math manipulatives for algebra

1. Hand2mind Plastic Algebra Manipulatives Classroom Kit

algebra manipulatives plastic algebra tiles

Learning algebraic expressions can be made more fun with the help of Algebra tiles. Help students with this kit to make Algebra super absorbing for the kid  by conducting some interesting algebra tiles activities. The concepts of adding and subtracting polynomials, factor polynomials, etc. can be easily demonstrated and explained to children using this kit. It is one of the manipulatives for Algebra that eases learning remarkably. Children may find this kit quite engaging and very easy to use for practicing algebra with little practice.

A manipulative must be easy to understand, fun to play with and supportive of effective learning. This product is all of this and is easily available in online stores too.

2. Didax Easyshapes Algebra Tiles

didax algebra tiles manipulatives

If DIY Algebra tiles are not your cup of tea, you can always go ahead and buy a ready-made set. Very smartly designed, these Algebra tiles  by Didax are helpful manipulatives for understanding the concept of positive and negative values in an easily comprehensible manner. Some of the tiles can have the same color on both sides. Thus, parents, while helping children practice Algebra at home, may use two tiles to teach the concept of positive and negative numbers. Sandwiching different colored tiles to indicate opposite signs helps introduce zero to the child and they are able to retain it for a long time in their mind.

The tiles are quite effective in dealing with polynomials and signs used in Algebra. Teaching concepts become very easy, children love the simple design of these manipulatives too.

3. The Algebra Game: Quadratic Equations

The Algebra Game: Quadratic Equations

The use of games and manipulatives is not limited to elementary and middle school classrooms. In fact, high schoolers too can benefit if they regularly practice math concepts through this approach. This brings us to the next item on our list, which is The Algebra Game by Didax. 

This game concentrates on algebraic activities pertaining to quadratic equations. Suitable for students in grades seven and above, this one will work well for conducting small group activities.

As learners go through these cards, they develop a sense of various aspects of quadratic equations. The representations engage students and build their understanding of this core element of algebra. This practice tool is apt for up to twelve students. You also get a comprehensive teacher’s guide, including different games and activities, and questions to spark open and engaging discussions in the classroom. 

4. Algebra Exponents Card Game

algebra exponenets card game manipulatives

Strengthening algebra basics come easy to you with the Algebra Exponents game. These cards make calculating and using exponents pure fun. The number 24 is kept in focus. Then, students can fiddle with a variety of given signs of operations, square root, etc. to arrive at the number 24 eventually. This manipulative is an exceptional mind stimulant and makes number crunching a fun game for beginners of Algebra.

Children of age 12 and above are suitable to play this game and can make it a part of the group activity. The concepts of association, brainstorming, and identification are applied in making this manipulative for Algebra.

5. Algebra Dominoes

algebra dominoes manipulatives

Most of us have grown up playing Dominoes. These interesting games make a very interesting and familiar manipulative for Algebra. This game to be used as a manipulative is made of thick plastic that makes handling easier and children will be able to engage in the actual game instead of dropping and picking them, which is usually the case with thin plastic cards.

The association-based learning offered by Dominoes is quite beneficial for kids in terms of providing a playful way of learning. The abstract concept of the equation becomes exceptionally easy to absorb and your students will never get bored of it, too, because of the attractive look of these dominoes. You can help the child associate and identify the equation or its part and trick the mind to learn it.

6. Edxeducation Student Math Balance

Edxeducation Student Math Balance

Another useful manipulative to teach early algebraic equations to students is the Edxeducation Math Balance. Curated out of durable plastic, this simple yet effective tool is a useful add-on to algebra classrooms. Using this balance, which stands 14” wide and 5” tall, students can replicate simple algebraic equations using weights on either side of the balance. 

Being able to actually see equations in a tangible form helps students comprehend the concepts much better than solving the equations through the traditional pen and paper approach. Besides beginner’s algebra, teachers can use this manipulative to introduce other math concepts that are a part of the STEM curriculum. 

Twenty easy-to-use weights provided with the balance are fun to experiment with, and kids will love the instant feedback that the balance will offer if the calculations are moving in the wrong direction. On the whole, it is a decent and affordable tool that supports learning through play, which students can use individually or in groups.

7. Hands-on Equations Starter Set

The hands-on Equations Starter Set offers an innovative way of teaching how to build linear equations and solve them too. This whole set has 10 student kits comprising 24 game pieces and there is a laminated game board. The starter set is suitable for students in grades 3-9.

The convenience of building an equation instead of writing can offer you a more tangible approach to employ to teach the child the concept of building an equation. This manipulative for Algebra is just what you need to help your child enter the world of Algebra with confidence.

8. Algebra Lab Gear

Algebra Lab Gear

The Algebra lab gear is a comprehensive manipulative environment which extends the model of base ten blocks. Hence, it helps the students in visualizing abstract problems by moving the blocks around. It consists of 90 pieces which includes number blocks in yellow and variable blocks in blue and can be worked around with a set of two students. It is particularly helpful for visual, spatial and kinesthetic learners.

9. Electronic Flash Card

Electronic Flash Card

An electronic flashcard is an effective manipulative for developing early algebraic skills in the child. The flexibility to use it in timed and untimed modes helps you use the product according to the grasping capability of the child. You also have the flexibility to select the level of difficulty to up the challenge.

This manipulative for Algebra features a color-coded screen to help the child get attracted to various parts of the equation and know the difference between those clearly. Thus, it reduces the chance of making errors. The feedback is provided through both visual and auditory modes.

10. Algebra Bingo Game

algebra bingo game manipulative

Bingo game has been entertaining us for years at parties or when we are with our friends. This game has made it to the list of effective manipulatives for Algebra because of the ease it offers in learning about concepts, equations, expressions, and calculations involved in Algebra. It offers a quick reference chart to the teachers also. Kids can have fun playing bingo and learning Algebra in the process, eventually finding better comfort with the subject.

This game provides assistance in learning about exponents, factoring, slope vocabulary, and radical equations minus the complexity these concepts come with. Easy learning, fast grasping and better retention, and a fun way of practicing are some of the best advantages this manipulative offers.

Capable of including up to 36 players, this game can be used as a group activity in the class.

Final Words

As a starter, ‘How to acquaint children with Algebra?’- is a question that can give sleepless nights to teachers and parents. Especially for children who require extra effort in learning, Algebra can no less than be an impossible feat to conquer. To help both the teacher and the child, the manipulatives for Algebra mentioned above are found to be very effective and useful.when combined with other resources such as apps, books, and algebra flashcards. Regular practice with these manipulatives will make learning Algebra super fun for the students, which will ultimately reflect positively in their assessment scores.

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