5 Favorite Math Manipulatives for First Grade

Teaching math was something I never dreamed I would find fun. In fact, it was the one subject I felt worried about teaching my first year, and quickly became a personal professional goal of mine. As I became aware of more and more math manipulatives, and saw how they empowered my students and unlocked those “Aha” moments in their minds, I was suddenly excited about the possibilities of teaching math to my students! In fact, my first graders love to visit the “math buffet” to select the tools that will help them to solve problems and complete their math tasks of the day. These specific manipulatives help my students to solve addition, subtraction, and place value problems within 100.

Here are 5 of my favorite math manipulatives for first graders (and a few honorable mentions).

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1. Unifix Cubes – Package of 300 – 10 Colors

These cubes are amazing tools to use for counting, adding, subtracting, making patterns, and even as markers for many of the math center games I use in my classroom!

2. Nasco TB18746T Dot Dice Set, 5/8″ Square, Foam, 36-Piece, Yellow with Black, Grades K+

Foam dice are an amazing addition to a math classroom because… well regular dice are so loud! I use a guided math model in my classroom with centers happening the whole time. The silence of these dice is just amazing. I also like to get a set of Learning Resources Hands-On Soft Color Cubes, Set of 102 so that I can change the numbers, add the numerals instead of the dice dot patterns, and also add higher numbers, especially when we start to work on adding within 100.

3. Learning Advantage Student Math Balance – Number Balance

When I first started teaching I had not yet unlocked the possibilities associated with this math tool! I first used them in my first grade class to solve for variables. When I moved to first grade I used these to teach “ways to make” numbers, compare numbers/ inequalities, missing addend, and even place value! Here is a freebie from my TPT shop that I used these balances with: Comparing Quantities

4. School Friendly Playing Cards – Set of 8 Decks

I like to use cards to play adding games (like addition war!), compare quantities, play place value games, and more! I have also used regular decks of cards, but I like that these ones don’t have the “face cards”.

5. Learning Resources Base Ten Blocks Smart Pack

These base 10 blocks are really essential for students to learn about place value. They are wonderful for illustrating the concepts of composing and decomposing a 10, and 100.

More favorites:
Here are a few other favorite math manipulatives I have in my classroom!

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