50 Free DIY Maths Manipulatives
In this post, we will look at two great resources to buy and two free to make maths manipulatives. As an SEN teacher, you will be used to making the most of what you have. Specialist Sensory toys, resources, and equipment are usually very expensive. This means SEN teachers need to get creative when it comes to resources. See our 19 ways to teach size post for more free resource ideas.
We needed new Maths resources some of our SLD classes. New maths equipment can be expensive so we invested in some Learning Resources kits. In an SEN school, we often have to cover key maths concepts repeatedly. We also like to use a variety of contexts so size, colour, shape, counting to 10 will be covered well into the secondary department. This is a challenge when it comes to age-appropriate resources – see our discussion on age-appropriateness here. The resources also need to be robust which is why the following two maths manipulatives resources were chosen.
10 well-designed plastic cars that hold between 1 and 10 people. Great for counting, fine motor activities, and simple science experiments. These maths manipulatives have rolling wheels and are a good size for those still developing fine motor skills. We bought ours from TTS – on the website the car colours look different but I am happy with our multi-coloured set.
Who wouldn’t want to explore a maths manipulative based on Ice Cream. These are very engaging (if a little pricey) you can get a smaller set of counting cones on amazon. We bought ours from TTS Teaching Resources.The boy loved these, building towers, counting, making and copying patterns. The ice cream part is a softer plastic that may get chewed a bit. These would tie in well for a beach topic as well.
DIY Maths Manipulatives
Free Maths Manipulatives: Milk Bottle Lid Maths
If you haven’t got £20 to spare but you do have a bit of time you can quickly make this counting to 10 set. Just 10 milk bottle lids and a marker pen. I didn’t think of just using a pen until I had made the paper inserts. There are multiple uses for milk bottles as maths manipulatives – colours, numbers, letters, sums,
Baby Pouch Lid Maths Manipulatives
Well, I can only make this as I have a new baby but if schools ask around and you will quickly get contributions. This resource uses the multi-coloured pouch lids as DIY maths manipulatives. These are a good size for holding. They are great counters as they are easy to pick up for those developing fine motor skills. You can use this for colour sorting or counting. They are equally good for patterns and sequencing. This TEACCH task box style resource uses a washing capsule box with widgit symbol labels.
50 Free Maths Manipulatives
Here are 50 free math manipulatives you can make at home:
- Counters – Use beans, pasta, buttons, pom poms, etc.
- Place Value Blocks – Make blocks out of egg cartons or small boxes.
- Pattern Blocks – Cut shapes out of cardboard or foam.
- Fraction Bars – Use cardboard strips, wooden blocks, etc.
- Cuisenaire Rods – Use cardboard tubes, straws, or strips of paper.
- Base 10 Blocks – Use egg cartons, craft sticks, Legos, etc.
- Clock Face – Draw a clock on paper and make hands out of cardboard.
- Abacus – Use beads, buttons, or popsicle sticks on a shoebox.
- Tangram Pieces – Cut shapes from cardboard.
- Geoboard – Hammer nails into a piece of wood or cardboard.
- Dice – Make dice out of cardboard and mark with numbers.
- Play Money – Print or draw money on paper and cut out.
- Measuring Tools – Make a ruler, yardstick, scales, etc.
- Timeline – Draw a timeline on paper or cardboard.
- Number Line – Make a number line out of paper.
- Hundreds Chart – Draw a hundreds chart on paper.
- Flash Cards – Make math facts flash cards on index cards.
- Math Board Games – Make games like Chutes and Ladders.
- Equation Mat – Write equations on a piece of paper or cardboard.
- Fraction Pieces – Fold paper plates into fraction pieces.
- Graph Paper – Print or draw graph paper.
- Protractor – Make one out of cardboard and a brass fastener.
- Mirrors – Use for symmetry activities.
- Balance Scale – Make one from craft sticks and cardboard.
- Color Tiles – Use cardboard squares painted different colors.
- Attribute Blocks – Paint blocks different colors, sizes, shapes.
- 3D Shapes – Make shapes like cubes, prisms, etc. from cardboard.
- Multi-sided Dice – Make dice with 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 sides.
- Number Cards – Make a card for each number 0-100.
- Ten Frame – Draw a ten frame on paper.
- Number Charts – Make charts for skip counting, multiplication tables, etc.
- Math Manipulative Kit – Use a box or bag to organize materials.
- Clock Hands – Make movable hands out of cardboard and brass fasteners.
- Fraction Circles – Draw and cut out circles divided into fractions.
- Decimal Cards – Make cards with decimal numbers on them.
- Percent Cards – Make cards representing different percents.
- Ratio Table – Make a simple table with rows and columns.
- Algebra Tiles – Use squares and rectangles to model algebra.
- Probability Spinner – Make a spinner divided into sections.
- Graphing Pictures – Use graph paper to create pictures with points.
- Coordinate Grid – Draw a coordinate plane on paper.
- Protractor – Make one out of cardboard.
- Math Dictionary – Make cards with math vocab words and definitions.
- Math Concept Posters – Make posters about math concepts.
- Measurement Conversions Chart – Make a conversion chart.
- Multiplication Table – Draw a table on paper.
- Area and Perimeter Formulas – Write formulas on paper.
- Math Puzzle Worksheets – Create fun math worksheets.
- Calculator – Make a pretend one with cardboard.
- Use Toys of different sizes to compare
I would love to see your free DIY maths manipulatives. Add them to the comments.