This is the second 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 post can be viewed here: Part 1-Visualizing)
Virtual manipulatives help students to understand difficult concepts. They help to make abstract concepts more easily understandable with visual tools. A classic example is using base ten blocks to illustrate “regrouping” in a multi-digit addition or subtraction algorithm. Students are given a concrete visualization to hold in their minds when they are computing to understand what is really happening mathematically.
Below are three manipulatives that help students explore difficult concepts.
Students add spots to a ladybug (ladybird in the UK) to demonstrate a part/part/whole addition problem.
Practice comparing and ordering fractions, simplifying fractions, or finding equivalent fractions on a number line that adjusts instantly. Create fractions visually and then watch them plotted on the number line.
Explore the meaning of multiplication by viewing arrays paired with the traditional algorithm.