Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Manipulating Math!

Happy Hump Day everyone!

I know that for some of you, this is your last week of school!  :)  For me, I still have 16 days of school (not that I'm counting).  But since I'm linking up with Ideas by Jivey's Workshop Wednesday and this week's topic is about math manipulatives, I figured I'd throw a little extra math at 'ya!

So being a 4th grade teacher, it has taken me awhile to catch on to the concept of using manipulatives in math for older kids.  I was under the (false) impression that manipulatives are only for the younger kids.  How wrong, how wrong...

This year, I have really tried hard to use them whenever I could.  The Base 10 blocks worked WONDERS when I taught decimals!

Right now, like many of you, we are studying geometry.  Yesterday, I taught a lesson on classifying triangles.  We reviewed the ways triangles are classified (by the length of their sides and the measurement of their angles) and went through some practice problems from the book.  My kiddos caught on pretty quickly. 

Then I gave them a project sheet and a cup of toothpicks.  On the project sheet (I think I found it from a Mailbox magazine so I can't share it here  :( , my mathematicians were given three numbers to represent the number of toothpicks for each side of a triangle.  They then used the toothpicks to build the triangle.

For example, if the number was 2,3,4, they would build a triangle that had two toothpicks on one side, three toothpicks on another, and four toothpicks on the last side.  After making the triangle, they had to classify it by both of its names.


For most of my students, this worked GREAT!  They rose to the challenge!!  For others, they were rather sloppy in lining up their toothpicks so it didn't work as well.  :( 

I am now looking for other ways to make math more hands-on for my 4th graders because they go bonkers for math activities.   They like it so much, they even forget they are learning!

 I hope you will head over to Ideas By Jivey and check out the other great ideas!



  1. Love the toothpick idea! :) also, will you email me? I can give you her address but don't have your email. Thank you!! :)
    ideas by jivey
    Follow Me On Facebook! :)

  2. Really like the toothpick idea - we only use toothpicks to build 3D skeletons with marshmallows!!

  3. I LOVE the toothpick activity! I am pinning that for next year!
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  4. Such a cute idea! I'm definitely using this one with my kiddos :o) Thanks for sharing!

    Teaching with a Touch of Twang

  5. Thanks for sharing! Q-tips also work well. I hope my blog can give your fourth graders some fun activities--even if there's only a few more weeks of school. I need to make some reproducibles, but my suggestions for activities are on my blog : ) Nice to link up through Jivey.
    Kids Math Teacher


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