Oooooh my gosh! One of my favorite, favorite, favorite parts of homeschooling or just… having children… is finding the best manipulatives for them. First, let’s go back to the year 1988, 5 year old Ariana in my kindergarten classroom, sitting in a circle on a colorful carpet with my classmates and my teacher brings out a huge bucket of pattern blocks and pattern cards at the end of the school day. My eyes widened in excitement! They were such unique shapes! The feel of the wood in my little hands was soothing! They fit into pretty pictures on the cards supplied! It was my favorite part of school! I never wanted pattern-block time to end. One of the very first “manipulatives” I bought when I became a mother was… you guessed it! Pattern blocks!
Since then I’ve acquired a large, very large, collection of manipulatives. I’ve had 5 children since Brooklyn… 6 different personalities, learning styles, and preferences. We’ve had dinosaur counters, animal counters, family counters, base ten blocks, Math U See blocks, dominoes, playing cards, cuisenare rods, ALWAYS pattern blocks!, foam letters, balances, abacuses, and on and on. We’ve used them on their own and we’ve used them along with a dozen different math curriculums.
Here are my and my kids’ long-term favorites. Items we frequently use, that are very educational, fun, and have longevity. For some reason half the pictures I took didn’t show up on my computer (I’ve had crazy computer problems this year!) but I’m including photos of most things and I showed most things in the video at the end of this post!
These links are all affiliate links!
Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
First up: Counters! I have listed our favorite five but we’ve had more than the ones below!
Classic Counting Bears with Dice and Tongs
Mini Muffin Counters
Family Counters (Ember’s Favorite!)
Pet Counters (Lyla’s Favorite!)
Dinosaur Counters (Everett’s Favorite!)
Magnetic letters and numbers:
Foam Magnetic Letters, Upper/Lower with red vowels
Foam Magnetic Numbers
I don’t have images for, but use, these two items:
Craft Ink Pads
4,000+ Stickers for $9.99!
Magnetic ten frames and fraction sets:
Magnetic Ten Frame
Magnetic Fraction Tiles
1 inch Square Color Tiles (Set of 400 is what we get)
Great for small motor skills or color and shape learning, lacing buttons!
Lacing Buttons (don’t tangle easily!)
Geo Boards! LOVE geo boards!
Mini Geo Boards (set of 5)
Two Sided GeoBoard
Cuisenaire Rods (we prefer plastic to wood in these!)
Montessori Colored Pegs and Peg Board
Pattern Blocks, 250 piece set
There are pattern cards available to purchase at that link but you can also print your own. I have these:
Free Uppercase Letters Pattern Block Cards
Free Number Pattern Block Cards
Free Upper and Lower Case Letter Pattern Block Cards
Base Ten/Math U See block kits, I’ve included a few because I’ve used literally at least five types of these!
Math U See Integer Block Kit
Base Ten Blocks
I like this set of Base Ten Blocks from Christianbook.com better! (available in Jan. 2020)
Learning Resources Base Ten Blocks – kinda pricey though
A number line:
Magnetic Number Line (This is amazing for Everett during math)
Or use pocket chart numbers and letters instead!
Numbers (with hanging pocket chart)
And a Stand-Alone Pocket Chart We Like
Some random fun things:
Dice! (This is a Tenzi game which we adore AND you get dice!) 4 Player
Dice! (This is a Tenzi game which we adore AND you get dice!) 6 Player
And the video where I show just a few ways I use each item: