6 Great Virtual Manipulative Tools for the Math Classroom

When I think of the lessons we learned from remote learning, I think about how much mathematics instruction had to adapt to the changing needs of students. In other words, we couldn't do things the way we had always done them. We had to change! As we start the journey towards post-COVID, there are many lessons that we can take and infuse into our classrooms. 

Montejo-Gámez et al. (2022) proposed several best practices for teaching mathematics during remote learning, such as:
  • Connect real-world issues (i.e. COVID stats, lockdown numbers, etc.) with math concepts to take a "meaningful mathematics," approach.
  • Blend synchronous and asynchronous instruction. 
  • Emphasize modeling, student interests, and hands-on activities. 

It made me think about how important virtual manipulatives are for modeling math concepts and providing students with hands-on learning opportunities. Here are six great tools for providing students with hands-on learning opportunities for math! 

#1 - Didax

Didax has approximately 19 different pre-created virtual manipulatives for teaching math, such as ten-frames, number lines, fraction tiles, and more!

I love using the Unifix Cubes and Base-Ten Blocks for counting activities, adding, subtracting, and division. It's easy to use and can be used on any device. Simply share the link to the activity on Google Classroom or your favorite LMS.  



# 2 - Classkick 

Classkick is an awesome tool for creating your own customized virtual manipulatives for the math classroom. Although it sounds intimidating, it is very easy to create!

Classkick has some amazing pre-made Venn diagram and t-chart backgrounds that you can choose from; however, you can also add your own customized backgrounds or graphic organizers. 

Creating your own virtual manipulatives is very easy. First, you will need to have an already created PDF, JPG, or PNG file available with your objects. I would recommend using Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or Google Drawings to create your graphic. Make sure that you save it as a PDF, PNG, or JPG! 

Check out my video for more:



#3 - Toy Theatre

Toy Theatre is a great place to get virtual manipulatives and resources for a variety of subject areas geared towards the elementary classroom. If you are teaching virtually, Toy Theatre could provide a variety of math learning options to help students learn multiplication and division, alphabetical order, symmetry, and more! 


Want to see this tool in action? Check out my video



#4 - Mathigon 

Mathigon is a very helpful virtual manipulative tool that you can use to make math more engaging and exciting! It contains free tools, games, activities, and resources for all students to use! Not only can you use the activities, but you can assign assignments to your students directly from Mathigon or import your students from Google Classroom.

Here is a quick 4-minute tutorial to learn more about the Polypad feature!
 


#5 - National Library of Virtual Manipulatives

A great site to help our visual learners connect with Mathematical concepts is called the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives. Whether you are an elementary teacher who wants your students to understand measurement, a middle school teacher who wants your students to understand basic algebra, or a high school teacher who wants your students to understand geometry, this site is a great tool to connect your visual learners with mathematical concepts. 


I really enjoyed trying out the Algebra Basic Scales game, where you solve "X" by using a weighing scale. It's a great way for students to learn in a visual way! It is overwhelming to see how many games are available for students to learn!


#6 - Google Slides

Did you know that you could use Google Slides as a tool for virtual manipulatives? I was recently in a 4th-grade classroom, where we wanted to help students understand how to convert units of measurement like ounces to pounds and pounds to tons.

We developed the following Google Slides presentation to help students. Students are asked to guess how many ounces are in a pound, then they are asked to drag the one-ounce boxes into the one-pound container. When they are finished, they will record their answer in the answer box.

Feel free to access your own copy of this presentation here!


Want to see how it works? Check out my video!




References

Montejo-Gámez, J., Amador-Saelices, M., & Fernández-Plaza, J. (2022). Teaching mathematics to reflect  on the COVID-19 pandemic: Best practices. In Daniela, L., & Visvizi, A. (Eds.). (2022). Remote learning in times of pandemic: Issues, implications and best practice (p. 13 - 34)  Routledge.



Matt Bergman (2021)









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