Handmade Math Manipulatives

Many years ago when I was student teaching, one of the Kindergarten teachers had boxes of manipulatives with work mats that were so much fun for the students to use during math.  I knew I had to make some to use in my own classroom.  The best part is how easy and cheap they are to make since they pretty much only involve beans, felt, and construction paper.




(Yes, these have all seen better days, and they were made long before cute clipart was a thing!  But it just goes to show that things don't have to be perfect or beautiful, to be effective!)

These manipulatives and mats are great to use when learning about counting, addition, and subtraction.  
When using these for counting, you can have number cards to display how many manipulatives the students should put on the mat.  For addition and subtraction, the students love making up their own word problems and acting them out to find the answer.

This school bus is one I like to use during small groups.  It's great for counting,  one-to-one correspondence, one more, one less, ordinal numbers, addition, and subtraction.

These are some examples of prompts I'll give when using the school buses:
1)Put one person in each window.
Count the people.
Count the windows.
What do you notice?

2)Put a person in the 1st window.
Put a person in the last window.
(Continue naming different ordinal numbers.)

3)Put one person in a window.
Add one more. Now how many do we have?
Add one more person.  Now how many do we have?
Continue adding one more and telling how many until all windows are full.

4) Repeat the same as above, but start with all windows full, and take one away for "one less".

5)The buses can also be used for addition and subtraction story problems.