Recently I received a question on Facebook that asked: Hello, I am in need of other resources to use for my 7th & 8th math class. Do you have any suggestions of manipulative, programs, resources that you use? After teaching middle school for several years I decided to pull into my past and give a rundown of the manipulatives that I kept handy just for middle school math.
One of the first manipulatives that was purchased at my middle school while I was teaching 8th grade was Hands On Equations. I will say it took me a bit to learn how to use it myself as it wasn’t the way that I was taught but once I hooked on to the concrete way of balancing equations I was hooked! We even created balances in our interactive notebooks so that my students could continue to use this method at home when doing homework or studying.
Another tried and true manipulative that I used was two-color counters. Not only are these great to use as game pieces when playing with two people, they are great if you are playing a review bingo or even to work with positive and negative numbers.
I absolutely loved using Geometric Solids in my classroom. There was no lesson on volume or surface area that we didn’t pull these out. Heck, we even pulled them out when we were discussing transformations across the coordinate plane and we anted to have different shapes that were performing these transformations.
Algebra Domino Links were something that I pulled out during intervention. I used these to help students break down the basics of algebra. We would use white boards to show our work and they would have to communicate to me what they did to determine their answer. This really allowed me to see the needs of some of my students who were low in multiplication and division fluency.
Centimeter Cubes can be used for so many different manipulative type things. In the picture above my students are using them to create similar figures. We have also used them for fractions, probability, and even measuring when a student is struggling wtih the concept of a ruler. It helps to start with something they can manipulate before using the stick they could harm someone with out of frustration (it’s happened…)
And near the end of the year I am always bringing in Algebra Tiles. I say the end of the year because when I taught 8th grade I was doing Pre-Algebra and then I moved to 7th Grade Math. In Pre-Algebra there were times that we did use them early on in the year (equations) but it was predominately at the end of the year when we were starting the introduction to Algebra after all of our state testing. I really like these because they are two colors on each piece and it allows for positive/negatives to be easily visualized.
What manipulatives do you use in your Middle School Math classroom? How do you use them? Please leave a comment below so we can have a grand list for those in need.