The best way for kids to learn a subject such as mathematics is to make it as tangible as possible. Whilst this includes ensuring problems have real-world application and using a student’s own set of knowledge to contextualise questions, it also involves using teaching aids. Over time these aids have evolved through curriculum development and are now highly effective and integral pieces of equipment that teachers and tutors use to support children in their learning of new mathematical concepts.
Here are the ten most popular maths teaching aids
1.MAB – place value cards and physical items such as matchsticks, buttons, ping pong balls, corks
The iconic MAB wooden prisms, columns and blocks have been used to support children’s developing ability to work with numbers that are hypothetical i.e. numbers in a maths problem. Each piece represents a number value that they are working with (hundreds, tens or ones) and for processes such as subtraction they are an excellent way to practice borrowing and paying back. Children who struggle with the concept of visualising numbers and problems in their mind can continue to use the physical items to assist with their counting early into high school.
2.Online and Worksheet resources for primary aged students
Whether you are a teacher, parent or tutor sometimes having some ready-made worksheets can be a great jumping off point to begin lessons. There is no point in reinventing the wheel and the convenience of printable sheets is a tried and tested aid both at home and in the classroom. The TES website has resources for all primary-based subjects, but the maths sheets are particularly useful.
TES – https://www.tesaustralia.com/primary-teaching-resources/
Math resources – https://www.tesaustralia.com/mathematics-primary-teaching-resources/
3.Food such as pizza, cake, pie etc.
For many students the concept of fractions can be quite difficult to grasp. However, as soon as you get a favourite food such as pizza or cake involved, things usually become much clearer. They are great visual representations for fractions thanks to their shape and are excellent mathematical aids for learning about and practising creating fractions. There is an added cross-curriculum bonus here too that if the students also cook the food it is an additional reinforcement of measurement, counting and also fractions.
4.Clock dials, stop watches and sand timers
Telling time is taken for granted especially as technology brings the ease of digital clocks. However, telling time with analogue clocks, as well as counting and subtracting timings can be a much-needed skill for a variety of other mathematical problems such as problem solving. It is also an essential life skill.
5.Protractors, set squares and compasses
This type of mathematical aid may seem a little specific, but it is another essential skill that leads on to more advanced mathematical concepts and problems. Geometry – measuring angles, determining area and size is a very important life skill. These aids are essential classroom kit for students entering into a high school math environment.
6. 2D and 3D shapes – tangrams, pattern blocks and attribute blocks
Linked to geometry, shape blocks are another math aid which are especially useful, particularly for younger children identifying shapes. These types of aids also allow students to use the shapes to problem solve area puzzles, create and breakdown patterns, learn about symmetry and classification.
7. Pretend money – notes and coins
One of the most important real-world application skills in mathematics is the use of money. Sure kids know what it is, they have probably seen it and perhaps have even earned their own, but can they count it, use it in problems and sort it. The tangible effect of this type of teaching aid means that students can easily address money problems in the classroom with visual reminders of the real thing.
8. Dice, cards and counters and spinners
Probability plays mostly into the skill of problem solving. Many students have a difficult time with this type of mathematical skill as there is much innate knowledge and natural ability linked to its mastery. Dice, cards, spinners and the like are interactive and engaging math aids to get children involved in learning about probability, chance, number patterns and statistics.
9. Trundle wheel, and metre ruler
In addition to mathematical aids, the ability to go outside for activities and learning further enthuses students. These mathematical aids; trundle wheel, tapes and rulers encourage students to physically explore the answers to measuring problems. Additionally for the accuracy of answers and the mathematical concept of measurement these aids ensure that precision.
10. Beakers, funnels, cylinders, scales and weights
Learning about mass, weight and volume, younger students benefit enormously from visual representations. Being able to see the elements of the question i.e. the volume of water supports their understanding of not just calculating the answer, but also understanding the parameters of it.