Math education expert Marilyn Burns offers these helpful tips for incorporating manipulatives into your math lessons.

INTRODUCE MANIPULATIVES

Talk with kids about why we use manipulatives: They help us to get our heads around-and hands on-math concepts. These discussions are essential for new users and are useful refreshers.

SET GROUND RULES

Explain that manipulatives are tools, not toys. We use them to help us learn new things and solve problems.

ALLOW TIME FOR EXPLORATION

Encourage students to explore the materials and make their own discoveries. When students can satisfy their curiosity, they are less likely to become distracted from assigned tasks.

STAY ORGANIZED

Post a chart in your classroom listing the names of the manipulative materials. Teach children how to use them and put them back.

LET PARENTS KNOW

Send home a letter that lets parents who may be unfamiliar with manipulatives know why their children are using them. Include manipulative math activities for home.