Math manipulatives act as mirror to reflect the concrete images of abstract numbers. The best way for you to teach children mathematical concepts is by manipulating concrete materials. It helps them in imaging the abstract numbers, figures and shapes on the canvas of their minds. Essentially the mathematical manipulatives are an introduction to the concrete presentation of abstract mathematical concepts.
Math manipulatives are beneficial for those young students whose minds are too immature to grasp abstract numerical concepts. It is easier for them to understand the meaning of a number from the show of real things than from the number itself. For example, a child may not understand what numbers two or three imply. But the child can easily comprehend the implication of these numbers when exemplified through two fingers or two oranges. This way mathematical manipulatives make abstract numerical concepts look real.
You can use household items as math manipulatives to make your child understand numbers at home. Each child should have hand-on experience with manipulatives before indulging in pencil-and-paper exercises. All print materials such as textbooks offer the symbolic and pictorial representation of mathematical concepts. Textbooks impart only theoretical knowledge of math to students. This is not enough to satisfy their curiosity, feed their knowledge and to fuel their understanding.
Every classroom at a school should be equipped with a collection of math manipulatives to enrich students with practical knowledge and application of mathematical concepts. The manipulative material should always be available to them in classrooms. As a teacher, you should have the application of manipulatives at your fingertips. The duty to introduce the utility of manipulatives to the students falls to you. You should encourage them to observe and experiment the characteristics of manipulative materials.
Most children learn better math by handling math manipulatives. For instance, coins make one of the best manipulatives. With help of coins, you can teach your child how many one rupee coins make five rupees or ten rupees and similarly the significance of other notes. Thus, your child can also learn how to count money with coins. It encourages their thinking skills in concretizing abstract mathematical concepts. These manipulatives also teach them numerical values and calculation of those values.
Mathematical manipulatives are very beneficial for the grooming and children‘s understanding mathematical concepts and skills. You can manipulate the utility of manipulatives to teach students about fractions, ratio, area, symmetry, perimeter, congruence, measurements, patterns and other geometrical functions. The fact that you should keep in mind is that some students become over-dependent on the use of manipulatives. Even, later they cannot manipulate abstract ideas and concepts without math manipulatives.