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How to be manipulative: 10 TOOLS (math manipulatives) every math student needs

How often are our children’s hands engaged with math manipulatives?

Could the absence or underuse of great math tools be hindering our students? We at Made for math are descendants of Sagacious Multisensory Math Pioneers. One of which is Marilyn Zecher, who says, “when the hands are engaged, so is the attention.” Manipulatives are math tools designed for kids to use to learn math concepts. It’s all about manipulatives!









Here’s how to be manipulative 101! 🙂 Manipulatives point to the “concrete” aspect of the C.R.A. sequence. The C.R.A. is a component we employ at Made For Math that is central to the Multisensory Math Tutoring or Intervention process! 

Watch Now: In just over 2 minutes, Adrianne Meldrum, our C.E.O., distills the C.R.A. method for you! Click HERE. Side note: our company is formerly known as “Math For Middles!”

Our specialists guide our students to build, create, arrange, and yes, “Manipulate!” In the spirit of touch, tools, and the hands-on learning that connects with our kids, we’ve created a Top-10 list of math tools titled, “How to be manipulative” This is using the best sense of the word and another phrase we’ve picked up from Marilyn Zecher, who’s jokingly said, “I’m the most manipulative person in the world.” Got to love math humor! Are your students geared up?
Are you ready to get some math tools? Here we go!







  1. Craft sticks & rubber bands
  2. Unifix cubes
  3. Clay and flossers
  4. Fraction Tiles
  5. Base ten blocks
  6. Geometry nets
  7. Clocks
  8. Pipe Cleaners (Bendi Sticks or Chenille Stems) and beads
  9. Post-it notes, foam sports stickers, and scissors
  10. Pattern blocks

Related: Are you looking for a Homeschool curriculum? Check out these 8 Options.

Ok, so we couldn’t keep it to ten! Here are the bonus manipulatives!

Now that you have all the toys, gear, tools, and manipulatives







NOTE: These recommendations and resources include affiliate links. We don’t recommend anything we haven’t utilized or wouldn’t use. By clicking on these links, we may receive a small commission for any purchase you make. This is totally optional. You are in no obligation to use these affiliate links.

Ready to start your multisensory math intervention saga?

It all starts by watching our demo video where we show you what it all looks like at various grade levels. You’ll understand student, parent, and math specialist expectations. 

Watch the demo to learn how to get started with your math specialist today!

MFM Authors

Matthew Lyda

Matthew Lyda

Multisensory Math Specialist

Matthew is a Blue Belt in Shotokan Karate, a happy husband, wilderness lover, drummer, and a voracious reader! He works with students one:one as well as in group classes.