Jan 19, 2015

Math Monday: The Cheapest Math Manipulative

I have a ton of math manipulatives to use in my classroom. Some have come with the math series, some have been inherited, some were purchased out of my own pocket. I truly think they are one of the most important aspects of teaching math skills. But, I have to say that my FAVORITE manipulative is my cheapest, easiest one!

At least 8 years ago, I bought a couple of boxes of elbow macaroni! At first I just had it in a big bin and would scoop out a scoop for each child to use for counters. Now, I have invested in small Ziplock containers to store them in, so I just pass out one container per kid. 

The possibilities are endless for this cheap, cheap purchase of macaroni! You can use it for adding and subtracting, making groups, multiplications, division...the list goes on. I have even used them for playing BINGO. Also, they can be used at all grade levels.

If you are just beginning your teaching career and don't know where to begin when it comes to purchasing and collecting materials for your classroom, this would be an easy start!

If this post inspired you today, please share it with your teaching friends! Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are a great help to me! Thank you in advance!


  1. Thanks! I use dry beans a lot. I also use macaroni. I add a little food coloring. I love how easy it is to make first graders happy!

    1. Another good idea! I've never gone to the trouble of coloring mine because they seem to use it just fine as is. This stuff sure has lasted forever! :)

  2. Thank you. I love using beans and macaroni.

  3. What a great idea! I will be sharing with my student teacher.