Concrete Math Instruction with Manipulatives


Session Description

Lesson Ideas for K-12. The use of math manipulatives helps students hone their mathematical thinking skills and are important tools in helping students to think and reason in more meaningful ways. Students should learn mathematical concepts from the concrete to the abstract. In this session, learn how to purposefully plan out math instruction in developmentally appropriate ways while exploring ways to incorporate math manipulative in your lessons.

Learner Outcomes

By the end of the sessions participants will know / be able to:
  1. Incorporate the 3 stages of CRA into everyday instruction
  2. Blend 21st century skills with math manipulatives into weekly instruction 
  3. Create a lesson using unpacking documents based on CRA


Click on the link to take the following quiz Google Quiz (5 mins)

Activity 1: 

CRA Thinglink (15 minutes): 

Take a look at this Thinglink exploration board and investigate the resources. You do not have to investigate every space :) Thinglink Exploration

Respond on the Padlet using the following share strategy Square, Triangle & Circle

  • Square - 4 things that “square with my thinking” or makes sense to me
  • Triangle - 3 different “angles” or ways to look at the idea
  • Circle - 1 question “circling” in my head

Activity 2:

Spin Me Up (10 Minutes) - Using the digital spinner, you will spin for 1 manipulative type and 1 math topic. This is your lesson scenario. You may respin and create multiple scenarios if time provides. Share with your partner ideas on how to use in the classroom.
Manipulative Spinner & Math Topic
CRA Lesson Plan Template and Examples

Activity 3: 

(20 minutes): Example Math Lessons with Manipulatives

Surface Area

  • Instructors will guide participants through a short mini-lesson. Participants will be given a shape and a ruler. They will be asked to measure each side and find the surface area of the figure.
Dividing Money
  • Participants will get into groups of 3 or 4. Money will be given in one large stack to each group. Each group will be asked to evenly distribute the money to all members of the group. 

Activity 4: 

Revamp a Standard (25 Minutes) Use manipulatives, whiteboards, and Educreations to show the 3 stages of CRA based on a grade specific standard from the unpacking documents.

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