Concrete manipulatives play an important role in math teaching and learning but with the many health and safety precautions brought on by Covid-19 many schools are looking for alternatives to shared materials. Individual math tool kits for students, combined with the use of virtual manipulatives can provide safe learning opportunities no matter where students are learning. This page provides links to a range of virtual manipulatives that can be used to provide concrete ways for students to bring meaning to abstract mathematical ideas. The dynamic nature of many of these web-based representations of physical manipulatives offer opportunities to explore, reinforce and extend key math concepts in ways that will keep students highly engaged.
The Math Learning Center provides a suite of virtual manipulatives. Apps are available in two or more
versions: a web app for all modern browsers, and downloadable versions for
specific operating systems and devices (such as Apple iOS for iPad). At the time of writing some of the apps are
being updated with a sharing feature that allows teachers to pose problems
specific to their class and for students to share their thinking with their
teachers and classmates.
Didax offers virtual manipulatives for many of their physical manipulatives
commonly found in classrooms (e.g. unifix cubes, two-color counters, color
tiles, pattern blocks etc.). Instructions on how to use these virtual manipulatives,
learning activities and instructions on how to embed the manipulatives in your
online learning platform are provided. Below is a sample of some of the available manipulatives.
The Mathigon “polypad” provides a web-based whiteboard screen. Available virtual manipulatives include polygons, number tiles, number bars, fraction bars, algebra tiles, pentominoes and tangrams. Once in the polypad scroll down on the left hand side to access all available manipulatives.
National Library of Virtual Manipulatives is hosted by Utah State University.
Launched in 1999 this site provides manipulatives sorted by math strand and
grade band. Java software is required in order to view these virtual manipulatives.
Toy Theater hosts a page of colorful, virtual manipulatives that include a range of number charts (e.g. 1-20, 1-50,0-99,1-120 etc.) The downside to this site is the advertising evident on each page which can be distracting for students.