Favorite Math Manipulatives for Kindergarten


Kindergarten is a year of firsts. For many students, it is their first experience with math manipulatives or tools. Over the years, I have bought many trendy tools to try in my class. I always come back to the same tried and true favorites math manipulatives to teach the kindergarten standards and concepts.

math manipulatives for kindergarten

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Math Manipulatives

The key to using math manipulatives in kindergarten is to first give them time to explore them on their own before using them as a math tool. Oftentimes these manipulatives are new to a child. They are naturally going. to want to play with them. Set a timer and let them play. Then explain that they are actually a math tool.

Here is a round-up of some of the favorites we use in our kindergarten classroom.

Color Tiles

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Color tiles can be used in multiple ways. They are great for counting. I like to have students touch and move them as they count. This helps with one-to-one correspondence. Color tiles are also great to use when you are teaching patterns. How do you use color tiles in your classroom?

Linking Cubes

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Linking Cubes are a well-loved math tool by kids. They can build creations with them. Linking them together requires fine motor skills. In math, they work great for teaching addition and subtraction.


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Dice are great for games, plus just rolling and counting. Foam dice are my favorite because they are quiet! Have you tried foam dice yet? There are so many possibilities with dice. One of my favorite ways to use them at the beginning of the kindergarten school year is to roll and say the number. This helps students recognize the number quickly, without counting the dots. We also play math games during station time, and quiet dice bring the noise level down. Give each student a foam dice and let them roll!

Sometimes it is fun to bring in large dice, differently shaped dice, and any other non-typical dice.

Base Ten Blocks

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Base ten blocks are important math manipulatives to use when teaching about teen numbers in kindergarten. They are a great visual for understanding tens and ones.

Ten Frames

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Ten Frames are another essential manipulative for kindergarten math. I use these ones from Oriental Trading and love them! They can hold two-sided counters, which make a great visual for making ten. My students often use mini erasers that I have accumulated from Target. The trays are very durable. I have had mine for over five years and they are still going strong!

Pattern Blocks

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My students always love using pattern blocks. They love creating things with them during free-choice time. In math, they are great for geometry and teaching about the attributes of common shapes.

What are your favorite math manipulatives you use in your kindergarten or 1st-grade classroom?

Here are some resources that work with some of the above math tools.

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