I love making (and buying) manipulatives. I have many. Way. Too. Many.
One easy math manipulative: Two-sided beans and ten rods.
1 bag of lima beans
1 can of red spray paint
a bunch of wide craft sticks (looks like fat popsicle sticks)
Lay out all the lima beans in a single layer in a box of some sort. Spray evenly with the spray paint. Let dry. One side will be white, and the other side will be red.
You now have a very useful math manipulative that can be a simple counter, used for patterning (ABAB, AABB, AABAAB, etc.), and simple operations (3 reds and 2 whites equal 5 beans in all). There's a simple "game" where you put several beans into a cup and then dump the beans. You then begin to record all the red-white combinations that make that number of beans. A nice little exercise for number bonds (whole-part relationships) and probability at the same time (especially if you graph your results).
If you glue 10 beans (5 white then 5 red) to the popsicle stick, you then have a homemade ten-rod
. Very useful to help children visualize bigger number groups.
Another item that I've made that is very easy is a place value mat
. I have a set of purchased place value tiles
, but they would also be easy to make. I've made a place value flip book
dotnetdiva wrote about making a homemade abacus
In a previous thread, I think I sent you to the website that has phonics manipulatives galore
. Letter tiles
are another super handy manipulative. I *love* these. In my opinion, it's totally worth it to buy a good set (I got my favorite set through Primary Concepts
, and I also have the AAS ones), but you can also make them at home. Print out letters and phonograms (digraphs especially) on to heavy cardstock. Make the vowels a different color. If you want to take the time to laminate them and stick a little magnet on the back, you will essentially have the same manipulative that All About Spelling uses.
Those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. If I can come up with more, I'll post back.