This is the third in a series of seven posts sharing reasons virtual manipulatives should be the cornerstone of interactive content in the classroom including specific practical examples.  (The previous posts can be viewed here:  Part 1-Visualizing, Part 2-Explore Difficult Concepts)

Unlike hands-on math manipulatives, virtual manipulatives are found online.  While this means students are unable to touch the manipulatives, online versions of common manipulatives can be beneficial in other ways.  Classroom budgets don’t always allow us to purchase all the tools and resources we need.  Online manipulatives are an inexpensive (and usually free) way to supplement your manipulative supplies.  So, if you can’t afford a classroom set of fraction bars or if a fellow teacher is using the school’s set when you need them, an online version can be used in its place.

Online manipulatives, when paired with an interactive whiteboard or projector, help all students in the classroom have an equal opportunity to see the manipulative without huddling around a table.

Online manipulatives also provide added value.  They often have features that can be turned on and off and have added learning opportunities that are not possible with traditional hands-on manipulatives.  The virtual clocks shared below include the ability show both digital and analog time as well as sunrise and sunset to assist in a discussion of AM and PM.

Below are four manipulatives that help students by adding value or providing access to materials.

clock1Telling Time:  Virtual Clock

Advance the hands on the analog clock to watch the sun and moon rise and set.  Reveal and hide the digital time.


clock 2Telling Time:  Virtual Clock II

Advance the hands on the analog clock.  Reveal and hide the time in word form and the digital time.


place valuePlace Value Cards

Create three digit numbers, separate them into values, and display their representative base ten blocks.


solidsPlatonic Solids

Rotate and count the faces, edges, and vertices of the five Platonic Solids.  Watch each solid fold and unfold from its net