How to Use Math Manipulatives to Answer Word Problems

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  • 0:03 Math Manipulatives
  • 0:57 Using the Math Manipulatives
  • 1:54 Example
  • 2:49 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Yuanxin (Amy) Yang Alcocer

Amy has a master's degree in secondary education and has taught math at a public charter high school.

After watching this video lesson, you will see what a math manipulative is, how you can use almost anything as a math manipulative, and how you can use these manipulatives to help you solve word problems.

Math Manipulatives

In this video lesson, you will see how you can use math manipulatives to help you solve word problems. A math manipulative is any real object that you can use as a visual aid and tangible item to help you solve math problems. For example, when you use marbles to count, the marble becomes your math manipulative. Toothpicks can also become math manipulatives when used to keep count of scores when playing a game.

Anything you can get your hands on become a math manipulative when used to help you answer math problems. They are especially useful when working with word problems. Let's see how easy they are to use to solve a problem such as this:

Sally brings a large pepperoni pizza to her friend's house to share. She cuts it into 16 slices. Sally and her friends manage to eat 11 of the slices. How much of the pizza is left? Please write the answer in fraction form.

Using the Math Manipulatives

What kind of a math manipulative can you use to help you solve your problem? Well, you could use a real pepperoni pizza or you could use a piece of cardboard cut into a circle and then sliced into 16 slices. How would you use this math manipulative to help you solve the problem?

If you are using a real pepperoni pizza, you can recruit yourself and some friends to help you actually eat 11 pizza slices. If you are using the pretend cardboard pizza, then you can take 11 slices out of the pizza. Now, to finish the problem, you can count how many pizza slices are left. You count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. There are 5 pizza slices left.

To answer the question, you write the 5 on top of the 16. The 5 represents what is left of the pizza and the 16 represents the whole pizza. So, 5/16 represents how much of the pizza is left as a fraction.


Let's look at another problem:

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