Bright Ideas Blog Hop ~ Inexpensive Manipulatives - and How to Store Them!

I am so excited to be joining the Bright Ideas Blog Hop!
 My idea this week came about because my school has a distinct lack of math manipulatives. We have the standard unifix cubes and a small bucket of transportation manipulatives, and I think we even have 1/2 a set of bears but not enough to engage a classroom of little learners! I get $0 for my classroom each year and I've got 5 mouths of my own to feed, so I had to come up with inexpensive manipulatives.
If you've ever been to The Dollar Store or Target's Dollar Spot (if you haven't you probably need to hand in your teacher card!) you've seen those little baggies of novelty erasers:
Usually they're only $1 for 50-100 pieces. Many of them come with a few types per bag, but if not you can always buy three bags and mix them together. You can also get novelty erasers at Oriental Trading Company.

These are perfect for math manipulatives! In kindergarten you can use them for sorting, patterning and counting. In 1st grade I use them as addition and subtraction manipulatives or have the kids grab a handful to graph. Since they come in all kinds of different designs, the students are always enthusiastic to use them. I have special themed ones that only come out around a holiday, but others that are available year round for the students to enjoy.
The easiest way to store them is in pencil boxes. This keeps each set contained and separate from the other sets. I purchased the pencil boxces after school started when they were only ten cents each! My students can easily grab a box and take it back to their table to work with.
When I was purchasing the pencil boxes, I also grabbed the cardboard display case off the shelf. Walmart was happy to let me have it for free and it keeps the boxes stacked neatly so they don't take up much space. Plus I can move them from place to place in the room without a hassle.

There you have it - math manipulatives that will keep your students' interest - and you don't have to worry when a piece or two "goes missing" because they are inexpensive to replace!

Now head over to Mrs. Bremer's Class for a Bright Idea about student mail!

Check out the linky for even more Bright Ideas!
Kindergarten - 2nd grade:
3rd grade & up:

9 Rustle Up A Response!:

Mrs. Wathen said... Reply to comment

I love the idea of erasers as manipulatives! I have a few sets, but need to invest in several more. Not only are they inexpensive and readily available, the kids LOVE them and student engagement goes way up:) Thanks for the reminder!

Tammy
The Resourceful Apple

Stacy said... Reply to comment

ohhhh, the Wal Mart boxes are a great idea!!! that looks so organized! :)
Stacy
Funky Fresh Firsties

Stacey said... Reply to comment

What a fun way to mix up manipulatives and keep things fresh! Thanks for sharing!
Stacey
Teaching Ever After

Heather L said... Reply to comment

GREAT idea to take the display box so you can store the pencil boxes. Must remember to do that during my back to school shopping spree!

Heather
TeachItToday

Tanya Dwyer said... Reply to comment

What a great idea! I'm going to be on the look out for those little bags the next time I go to Target! You're a genius for swiping the display box too! Ha! =)

Tanya
A+ Firsties

Nancy Messenger said... Reply to comment

I definitely need to get some pencil boxes for storage. I have mine in ziplock baggies thrown in a box, lol.

Cindy Calenti said... Reply to comment

I've got all my erasers in baggies and I always have to wade through the bags. I love your method of storing.

Thanks for sharing!
Cindy

Ziggyfriends said... Reply to comment

I love those erasers too! Don't forget to check the bargain bins at Staples, too. After our Valentine's Day party last year I spotted a great way to store them for our classroom. We had store bought sugar cookies in a round plastic tray with wedge shaped sections - like a sorting tray! I washed and removed the goo from them. Now every different type of eraser has it's own little section and they're visible too.

~The Bargain Babe from *Zucchini Summer Blog* said... Reply to comment

Perfect idea and I loved the comment about having to turn in your teacher card if you've not been to the Target Dollar Spot! LOL

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