Teachers need to use teaching aids to teach math effectively. The most effective teaching aids are manipulatives such as cubes, counters, pattern blocks, geoboards, place values blocks and plastic money. Students enjoy using manipulatives and, with proper instruction, can use the manipulatives to understand and master math concepts.

### Function

Manipulatives allow students to reason and to solve problems. Manipulatives are helpful for introducing concepts and for solidifying concepts. Manipulatives can also be provided to students to use for extra practice or as an instructional support.

### Types

Manipulatives can be bought at school supply stores. Teachers can purchase manipulatives individually or in classroom sets. Some manipulatives may be sold as accessories that accompany the student's math textbooks. Also, teachers can help students make their own manipulatives with common classroom supplies such as construction paper, scissors and glue. Finally, math manipulatives can even be found online in an interactive format.

### Time Frame

Manipulatives should be introduced to the student before they need them to complete an assignment. The student should be given time to use the manipulatives freely for a few minutes before using them for an assignment. Manipulatives can be used often throughout the school year as needed.

### Considerations

Many students are hands-on learners. Math manipulatives allows these students to grasp difficult math concepts. Math manipulatives are especially helpful for those students who have learning disabilities.

### Benefits

According to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, about 75 per cent of all students surveyed said that math manipulatives were helpful when learning new concepts. Some students reported that manipulatives were confusing at times, but this could probably be solved with more explicit instructions on how to properly use the manipulatives.