What are math manipulatives?

I had heard the term, but had to do some checking to define it.  What are math manipulatives?  Most homeschool math curriculum is in the form of textbooks or workbooks, which doesn’t give kids much experience with hands-on math skills.  Even if you do an online math program, the images on the screen are still two dimensional.  Some children learn great that way, but kinesthetic or “hands-on” learners can really benefit from math manipulatives.

Manipulatives are things like base-ten blocks to learn about decimals, or a pretend pizza pie to teach about fractional parts, or a toy clock with moveable hands for learning to tell time.   Real objects that can be touched, counted, or moved can really help reinforce the lesson.  Even something like a thermometer is easier for some kids to understand if they can hold it and look at it up close, rather than seeing pictures of one.

The winter blahs…

It happens every winter.  The whole family is cooped up insde the house because afterall, it’s winter outside.  How do you keep the winter blahs from setting in when it’s cold, gray, and dreary outside?  Sometimes it’s good to do something fun and out of the ordinary to break things up a little.  One thing I tried with my own kids was to pretend it was summer for a day.  We turned the heat up in the house, just for an afternoon, and everyone wore summertime clothes and ate popsicles.  It was fun!   I also let my younger kids wear their bathing suits in the bathtub, so it felt more like swimming.  That was a big hit too.  But you can do things far less drastic than that, like taking a day off from “regular” school to do an art project, for example.  It just helps to break up the gloom outside on a cold winter day.