manipulativeManipulatives are frequently used in the elementary math classroom, but use drops off when math begins to become more complex in the higher grades. Manipulatives can be a useful teaching tool for students with LDs, as they increase the number of sensory inputs a student uses while learning the new concept. The increase in sensory inputs improves the chances for a student to remember the procedures to solve a problem (Witzel, 2005).

If manipulatives are unavailable or the student resists using manipulatives, virtual manipulatives are a good alternative. Virtual manipulatives are online or app-based versions of concrete manipulative objects.

Some benefits of virtual manipulatives include:

  • they can be used discreetly on a tablet so as not to draw attention to students with LDs, who may need to use manipulatives for a longer period of time in the learning process compared to their peers without LDs
  • ease of managing and transporting materials, which benefits busy educators as well as students with LDs who may have challenges with organization and other executive functions
  • they can be accessed by as many students as required on their personal devices, at school or at home
  • many virtual manipulatives come with prompts and scaffolds to support greater student independence

(Bouck & Sprick, 2019)

​​To learn more about how manipulatives can be used to support math learning at all levels, click here to watch the video “Math Manipulatives: Tools to Help All Students Become Effective Problem Solvers” 

Click here to access the learning tools and virtual manipulatives available on Mathies.

Click here to access the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives.

Click here to access the Math Learning Center’s list of virtual manipulative apps.