4 Ways to Teach Through Manipulatives

Do you have hands on learners? Do you teach students with autism (or other language based disabilities) that have trouble with abstract concepts? Then you need to use manipulatives to teach!!!

4 ways to use manipulatives to teach... these ideas are perfect for students who need hands on tasks, are visual learners or are in special education classrooms.

I seriously LOVE using manipulatives to teach concepts to my class! They make the concepts visual and more understandable for my students. Manipulatives also give my students another way to demonstrate they understand the concepts. Here are 4 different ways I use manipulatives to teach. The connecting blocks used in these ideas are my favorite manipulatives to teach with. They are colorful, but not overly exciting and distracting to my class.

Number Concepts

Use manipulatives to teach number concepts such as making sets and one to one correspondence.

We work on one to one correspondence and making sets with manipulatives. Students demonstrate their understanding of numbers by making the correct set when shown a number. To practice one to one correspondence, we line the blocks up and have students count them. From there, we create a messy array for students to count.

Addition Concepts 

Addition comes to life with manipulatives!

Once my students understand number concepts, we use the same manipulatives to work on addition. I like to use the connecting blocks because they really illustrate to the students that you are combining the 2 separate groups into one bigger group. We then work on addition with graphic organizers and different manipulatives. In the picture below, my student is using the Monster Math Addition Mats.

Addition mats help students understand the act of addition.


Prepositions are easy to teach using manipulatives. You can teach for both receptive and expressive understanding of prepositions. 

Use manipulative to teach receptive and expressive understanding of prepositions.

Once my students begin understanding prepositions through manipulatives we move on to working on prepositions through pictures. Click HERE to read more about how we do that.  Click the picture for a peek at the materials we use.

Use visuals to teach about prepositions

Extending and Imitating Patterns

These manipulatives are perfect for having students extend a pattern and to replicate the pattern you modeled. You can choose how big or small of an array the student should have to pick the next block in the pattern. 

Manipulatives are perfect for working on patterning with students.

I hope you have learned some new ways to use manipulatives to teach. They are very well used in my special education class!

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Use manipulatives to teach students concepts that can be challenging. Using the manipulatives gives students a hands on way to demonstrate their learning and break down abstract concepts.

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