Teaching Math with Manipulatives

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Little Miss just turned five, and I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to start kindergarten with her. Little girls are just a completely different beast than little boys- after her brothers, I am so excited to have a student who likes seat work, and can color within the lines and pay attention for a couple minutes. She’s so eager to please and eager to learn. I am sure this year is going to be an exciting and joyful one for the both of us!

I obsessed over choosing her homeschool curriculum- because she is so different from the boys, I really wanted to take the time to consider her learning style and find a program that would be a good fit for the both of us. I finally settled on Math-U-See for her math program and stopped by their booth at the homeschool convention to chat with them more about the program.


Little Miss and her new Primer book! I was stoked to learn that Math-U-See offers a military discount! I got the digital pack for the teachers materials since we’ll be moving very soon and I wasn’t going to have access to a DVD player. So far, I’m impressed with the online access! 

I have used Math-U-See with my older kids, but never from the get-go with Primer. We’ve gone to Math-U-See when we needed it- I knew I could trust it to teach concepts that needed more practice. It was especially helpful with teaching math facts and helping the boys instantly recall their numbers.

Math-U-See is special because it takes complex concepts, and simplifies them with manipulatives that kids can see and touch. I really feel that Little Miss needs this- she’s a bright little girl, but memorizing isn’t her strong suit. She’s a toucher and a feeler and a mover and shaker. She needs to be able to dig into her lessons.

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Our first lesson with Math-U-See was a total hit. We’ve just barely started the program- right now, she’s working on number recognition and is practicing counting from zero to nine. She’s exploring the manipulatives and getting a feel for the numbers.

Math-U-See manipulatives are neat because, on one side, the bars have squares to show individual ones that make up the whole- a nine bar has nine ones. The opposite side has nine hollow squares, which will come in handy when she starts learning subtraction.

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For now, she’s counting with the ones squares. We’re practicing lining them up against the bars to see what two and three and four ones look like together. For the very first lesson, she practiced counting the pieces, and then selected the number from the number line. For a kiddo who hasn’t had any formal math instruction (other than kitchen table math, and singing and counting with me) she took to her workbook like a champ!

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She’s also playing with the manipulatives, building shapes and exploring the pieces. Today, she built a frame around one of the hundreds blocks, and when it came time to place the last piece, she counted the missing squares and knew exactly which block she needed to fill the space. It was a small thing, but it was an indication to me that she is internalizing what the manipulatives stand for.


In Primer, she isn’t expected to master all the concepts. At this point, the idea is to expose her to the manipulatives and how math works. I’m excited to see her learn and grow with the program- and I am looking forward to sharing our experience with you! Manipulatives can be such a powerful thing, and I am looking forward to seeing how they work with a child who is brand new to the world of math!

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Math-U-See is one of our newest sponsors, and I am *thrilled* to have them on board. To kick things off, they’ve offered one Math-U-See level to an OPC reader. You can enter the giveaway by using the widget below!

Don’t want to wait to start your math instruction? Order now and get free shipping from Math-U-See! 

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  1. We’ve used Math-U-See from the very beginning starting with Primer. We would LOVE to continue using this curriculum this year. My daughter will need the Zeta curriculum package. Thank you.

  2. We would get some good use outta Epsilon and any of the Secondary Math. I’ve been watching friends who use this program. I am looking for a solid Math program that uses multi sensory learning.

  3. My little girl is starting kindergarten and I would choose either primer or alpha. Thanks for introducing me to this great product!

  4. Alyssa would use Zeta this year as her core Math curriculum. It would be a blessing to win this giveaway. I love that the curriculum uses the blocks and inserts to teach mathematical concepts. Thank you for the opportunity to win!

  5. I SO wish we had started using MUS when my older daughter started school! For about four years we struggled through free and nearly free math curriculum because we thought MUS was too expensive. We paid dearly for the free stuff, though, in tears and frustration. She’s now working on Pre-Algebra, but I has taken quite a bit of teaching, admonishing, and discipling to help her overcome her math fear and loathing.

  6. Beta would be great! We plan on starting Alpha this year–it’s our first attempt at Math-U-See, and we’re excited!

  7. Alpha. I am about to start Primer with my kindergartener. Math is one of his strong suits so I know he’s going to blow through it!

  8. Thank you for offering a chance for someone to win a level of Math-U-SEE! I would love to win the Algebra level, this would be a blessing for our family!

  9. I would love primer!!! My hands on little guy will love it! We just decided to homeschool after our doctor encouraged it due to my sons medical issues. We are starting from scratch and trying to get started soon! #1 on our wish list is math u see. 🙂

  10. We searched for the right curriculum for my oldest for awhile until we found MUS. The other 2 are much different learners and they did well with MUS as well.

  11. I am so looking forward to homeschooling next year and starting to use our math u see curriculum. Still need to purchase a higher level for my oldest!

  12. I have primer, beta, gamma, and delta, so I need alpha! We like Math-U-See. It’s easy to adapt for all of my kids and their different learning styles.

  13. We would choose Alpha. We just started using Primer and so far I am very happy with it. It’s easy to follow and the videos have been well received. I especially love the manipulatives. We will probably breeze through Primer so having Alpha ready to go would be awesome!

  14. I have wanted this program for my daughter for years, but we are unable to afford it. She struggles in math, and is very hands-on. She is at 3rd grade math level.

  15. I would love Gamma for my daughter who is struggling with Math recently, due to an autoimmune disease that was undiagnosed for a long time.. This would be so helpful!

  16. Alpha! We have a struggling learner and lately I’ve received several recommendations for Math-U-See. This would be such a blessing! Thank you!

  17. My middle son struggles with math, we have tried several other programs but its just not sticking. I’d love to win Zeta for him. Thank you for a wonderful program.

  18. Thank you for your post and for offering the giveaway. We are going to start with math u see also. We are in preschool so the primer is what we will be beginning with too. I have heard so many wonderful things about math u see.

  19. I would pick Calculus. It’s the only set (other than Primer, which we don’t need) that we don’t have! Math U See is a great curriculum!

  20. I would love to have Delta for my daughter. We’re almost finished with Gamma and running short on funds.

  21. I’ve been praying over Alg for my linear daughter. She just wants to do the work, plug in the formula… No why knowledge. I want to offer (hand) her the Alg 1 level to force her out of her comfort zone to true understanding of algebraic thinking. I also need 3 more levels this year! Ahhh!

  22. I would have to (a) do the pre-testing, and (b) decide which kid to give it to… decisions, decisions….

  23. My daughter has used Algebra 1 and Geometry already. She’ll be using Algebra 2 this year for her senior math! She loves it!

  24. I would love Beta since we’ve completed Primer and have purchased Alpha for this school year already. Love math-u-see!

  25. I’ve used Math-U-See with my daughter since she was a toddler beginning with Primer. I would absolutely LOVE to win this giveaway – it would be a blessing. We both want to continue using their curriculum. I haven’t ordered her next level yet. We need the Math-U-See Zeta set. Thank you for the opportunity to win it.

  26. I’m not sure what to choose: alpha, zeta, pre-algebra, or one of the other secondary maths. I have students at many levels.

  27. I would pick the Primer level for my daughter. This would be amazing for her because she is an Audible learner.

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