How can you help your kids understand abstract mathematical concepts? By showing them how math works by using manipulatives. Kids love to be able to see concepts in real life. And using math manipulatives makes this tricky subject just plain fun.
Learn more about using math manipulatives, and specifically Iwako erasers, plus download a free set of 7 math mats.
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Why Should I Use Manipulatives in My Homeschool Math?
Children learn best when using multiple modalities, or experiencing the information in differing ways. So instead of relying only on black and white concrete numbers on a worksheet, kids need 3D items to touch and manipulate while they gain understanding in how math works.
Math manipulatives is just a fancy way of saying make it concrete. Show them that 2+2=4, don’t just tell them.
Since a hands-on approach is beneficial when teaching math, you should have some manipulatives at your disposal. Of course, you could use a million things that you already have around the house: LEGO bricks, coins, game pieces, dice, dominoes, toys, pieces of candy, or marshmallows.
Ideas for Math Manipulatives
You can use almost anything in your home as a math manipulative! You really don’t even need to spend money on some new item. But if you want some great inspiration, head to the local dollar store or craft aisle at Walmart and check out all the fun ideas.
Here are 20 ideas for math manipulatives you likely already own:
- small toy cars
- small toy animals
- small rocks
- mini marshmallows
- dry noodles
- game pieces
- foam cubes
- dried beans
But a fun resource that I came across for using as incentives in my piano studio – Iwako erasers – were perfect for using as manipulatives for my kindergartener’s math lessons.
What Are Iwako Erasers?
Iwako Erasers, or Japanese erasers, are a fun math manipulative that your kids will love! While you can certainly use coins or lego bricks or other household items with your youngest students to reinforce math concepts in a concrete way, grabbing a stash of Iwako erasers will not disappoint.
They also make adorable stocking stuffers or Valentine treats or rewards for completing repetition punch cards! So, without further ado, let me tell you about Iwako Erasers and how to use them in your homeschool.
Iwako, or Japanese, erasers are small erasers that come apart into mini puzzles. You can buy them in sets of animals, food, or vehicles. Kids love them because they are unique and fun to collect. The detail on these erasers is impressive. And how many erasers do you have that are meant to be taken apart?
If you can’t find Iwako erasers, you can likely find cute small erasers in the dollar section of many stores.
Here’s how you could use them. And make sure you get to the end of this post for free printable math mats!
10 Ideas for Using Iwako Erasers in Your Homeschool
Iwako Erasers for Math Manipulatives
This is just the tip of the iceberg! Here’s how to use manipulatives to teach math.
- Teaching Addition – make two small groups of erasers and create an addition equation to count the total. Bonus: download an Addition Mat and slip it into a clear plastic sleeve, then use a dry erase marker for continual addition practice!
- Ten Frame – visualizing what combinations of numbers add up to 10 is a foundational math skill. But it feels like play when you use erasers and a ten frame! Download one in the packet below.
- Teaching Subtraction – Have kids practice “take away” with a concrete example.
- Teaching Multiplication – Multiplication can be a stretch for lots of kids. But when you can visualize the process with fun manipulatives, math doesn’t seem as hard. Create repeating sets of manipulatives and show that multiplication is just repeated addition.
- Skip Counting – Instruct your child to cover up every other number, starting with 1, then say the numbers that are left in order. We’re counting by 2’s! Repeat different patterns to count by 3’s, 4’s, 5’s, and so on.
- Bar Graphs – Have your child sort the erasers and create 3D bar graphs on the tabletop. Sort by color, type of eraser, or any other features you like!
- Graphing with Ordered Pairs – Introduce even young children to graphing by placing erasers on points on the graph, then writing down the location (x,y). Or, tell your child a set of coordinates (3, 5) and see if they can place the eraser correctly. Download a handy graph for this purpose in the printables below!
Iwako Erasers for Other Subjects
I know, I know – I said this post was about using Iwako Erasers for math, but I added a few non-math ideas too, okay?
- Incentives – Use these adorable erasers as prizes for completing repetition punch cards or chores.
- Sorting & Categorizing – Sort based on size, color, features, or anything else!
- Writing Prompt – Give your child a few erasers and have him create a story based on them.
- Practicing Prepositions – Have your child pick their favorite eraser and put it on the couch, under the napkin, on your ear, etc!
Download Math Mats
What ideas can you come up with for using fun erasers as manipulatives in your homeschool? Download a set of Math Mats and start using your Iwako erasers today.