Prek-1st grade: Homemade manipulatives? Homemade balance? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 5 Old 02-22-2010, 11:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Have you made any of your own manipulatives for your prek, k or 1st grader? I guess I'm looking more for reading/phonics/math manipulatives but would love ideas for other subjects, also. Have you made your own "knock off" version of more expensive manipulatives and kits?

Is there some way I can easily make a simple balance with household items? I am working through Saxon math and do not have a balance. I was considering a string connecting two identical cups hung over a cabinet door handle might work (having them dangle over the counter in the kitchen) but is there a better idea just to show what is heavier, or what objects weigh the same as other objects, etc?
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#2 of 5 Old 02-23-2010, 01:56 AM
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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.

Homemade Balances

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.

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#3 of 5 Old 02-23-2010, 03:46 AM
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Okay, I thought of a few more:

Make a homemade geoboard with thumbtacks pounded into a wooden board.

I think Waldorf math uses something similar by placing pegs into a circular arrangement to show number patterns.

Print out homemade dominoes on heavy cardstock (Google for printables).

Same for pattern block shapes.

Homemade playing cards (RightStart cards for their math games are just simple numbers or graphics printed on cardstock).

These aren't manipulatives per se, but it's the same type of idea. Make homemade game boards. If you Google "file folder games for math," I bet you'll have a ton to choose from.

I've seen other homemade math games like mancala (which I've yet to learn how to play) using an egg carton.

Math Their Way has a series of free pdf files that have dozens and dozens of ideas to teach math with manipulatives. There is some seriously good stuff here. Grab the blackline masters while you are there too.

This isn't totally a "manipulative" in the way I usually think of the word, but the Words Their Way methodology includes an interesting way of using words or pictures on flashcards. Basically, students sort a stack of words in such a way to illustrate some phonics or orthographic principle. It's a constructivist approach in that the students are trying to determine what the organizing principles are in the groups of words that they are sorting.

Okay, I'll shut up now. (Can you tell that I'm seriously into the whole manipulatives thing? )

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#4 of 5 Old 02-23-2010, 05:43 AM
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this post = gold.

yllek - thank you for all those links! And to the OP - thank you for asking the question!

"Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn - Benjamin Franklin"
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#5 of 5 Old 02-23-2010, 11:03 AM
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Aimee + Scott = Theodore Roosevelt (11/05) and 23 months later Charles Abraham (10/07)....praying for a little sister; the search starts May 2014
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