Manipulatives have the power to make mathematics come to life by making abstract concepts observable and concrete. They also allow students opportunities to model their mathematical thinking and test hypotheses.
When students cannot safely share manipulative materials or aren’t physically in our classrooms, giving them access to these opportunities is a challenge. Virtual math manipulatives are one tool that may help. Here are a few ways you can use digital math manipulative mats with your students.
Mathematical Modeling & Skill Practice in the Classroom
If you are using a Smartboard or projector in your classroom, digital math mats can be projected for students to view as you model the mathematical concept, problem solving strategy, or skill of your choice. Next, have each student pull up a digital math manipulative mat on their own device and use it as a virtual whiteboard and manipulative kit! You state the practice problem. All students work individually on their math mats. Students can then share out and discuss processes and solutions with the class. No need to purchase individual manipulative sets or share materials.
Creating a Digital Math Toolkit in Google Classroom
Would your students benefit from frequent access to math manipulatives when working at home or independently during math workshop? Create a “Digital Math Toolkit” topic in your Google Classroom. Provide a copy of frequently used math mats for each student here to use for homework or classwork as needed. This section of your virtual classroom can grow with your students’ knowledge. Continue to add new digital math manipulatives as you introduce new topics throughout the year.
Enhancing Existing Digital Math Assignments
Have you already created your own math assignments for your students in Google Slides? Copy and paste a digital math manipulative mat Google slide to the start or end of the assignment for students to use as they work.
Does your math curriculum already provide digital worksheets? Add a math mat to your existing Google Classroom assignment for students to use as they complete it.
If students are toggling between tabs or slides, show them how to use the notes area on the bottom of the math mat to write down the problem to help them remember it as they work to solve it.
Create New Digital Math Assignments
Create your own assignment using the notes space on the math mat for teacher instructions and leave a small space for a student answer. You can duplicate a given slide several times when creating your assignment if you’d like students to complete several similar problems using the same manipulative set. You’ll be able to see and check their work process as well as their answers!
Mathematical Modeling When Teaching Virtually
Teaching or tutoring remotely? Pull up a digital math mat and share your screen in Zoom or Google Meet. Students will be able to clearly see your virtual math manipulatives without using a document camera.
Digital math manipulative mats are also great for modeling if you are recording lessons for students and families to reference at home. Just pull up your digital manipulative mat and record your screen using Screencastify or another screen video recorder.
Getting Started with Digital Math Manipulatives
Interested in trying out digital math manipulative mats with your students? Sign up for the Second Grade Smiles email list to get a free sample set in your inbox! You can purchase additional digital math manipulative mats in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.
If you’re looking for ideas for physical math manipulatives to use in your second grade classroom, you may want to hop over my Math Manipulatives You’ll Need to Teach Second Grade post next!