The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives

Posted: October 22, 2010 in Websites
Tags: ,

As I mentioned earlier, in January my resolution is to use one new form of technology in my classroom a week. Until then I will be reviewing programs and websites that I already use. My scope of technology is currently quite limited, but I’ve got a couple of websites up my sleeve.

Today’s website is one that I’ve used quite a bit for my math lessons over the years. Innovations in math teaching have lead most math teachers to use manipulatives to demonstrate why a particular math concept works, or to help students find solutions to problems. The National Library of Virtual manipulates offers many of these manipulatives online.

The technology: The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives

My impression:

When you enter the website you’ll find a grid where you can select which grades/ areas of mathematics you’re looking for. I haven’t used the Pre-K-2, or 3-5 levels much… but I did take a look at them. I have, however, used the 6-8 and 9-12 areas extensively. My students always enjoy lessons using this website. Even if it was a manipulative that they had used physically before, somehow having an electronic version made it so much more exciting. As an adult I don’t fully understand the logic behind that- but I’ll be honest… and I don’t often understand the logic of what my students are doing. If they’re happy doing math, I’m happy.

This website is pretty user friendly and my students are usually able to figure out how to use it on their own. It offers a variety of manipulatives that would be impossible to create outside a virtual environment, and I find that using these tools really help student understanding. In addition to the virtual manipulatives there are a lot of neat logic puzzles from the various disciplines in math that students can use to help further their understanding.

I have had problems with the Java on this site over the years, so make sure that it works on your school’s computers before you use it with your students. I have yet to use it and have every student in my class have it work, which usually leads to running around trying to find a computer that will run the website properly.

Possible uses in the classroom/ Lesson ideas:

This website is great for all parts of a math lesson, but I wouldn’t rely too heavily on it. I’ve successfully used it to introduce concepts, for inquiry based learning (on the Algebra Balance Scales: “What happens if you put the -1 here?”), and for practice of concepts we’ve already learned. With the classes I’ve taught I’ve had the most success using it to re-enforce concepts, but I’ll let you be the judge. What have you used this website for?


There’s way too many different manipulatives for me to show you here, but here’s some pictures of some of your different options. Check it out and see for yourself!

Where can I learn more?

Rating: 3 stars


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