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5 Concrete Materials We Can’t Live Without When Teaching Maths

Using concrete materials is all about taking physical objects, like blocks, pop sticks, or counters (just to name a few), to help students better understand maths concepts.

They are the perfect tool to complement learning that is:

  • Hands-on

  • Exploratory

  • Investigative

We are big advocates for using concrete materials in Maths (with students of ALL ages), and this is why:

Students are able to touch, move, and see the objects they’re using. This can make Maths feel more fun and easier to understand with a visual representation.

They can help students develop problem-solving skills and logical thinking. By playing with blocks or shapes, they can test different theories and see how they work (or if they don’t).

Concrete materials can contribute to students’ confidence in their maths abilities. When students can physically see and manipulate objects to solve math problems, they may feel more empowered and motivated to continue learning.

So, what are our top 5 must-have concrete materials used regularly that help our learners master maths concepts?

1. MAB (Base 10 blocks)

Base ten blocks,(which are blocks that represent ones, tens, hundreds, and thousands), can be used to help students understand place value and regrouping in addition and subtraction.

We also love using MAB to play trading games with our class and even as informal units of measurement.

2. Geometric shapes

Geometric shapes such as pattern blocks, can be used to teach students about shapes, symmetry, and spatial reasoning, but you can also use them to create patterns, to introduce algebra, informal measurement and even model fractions.


We love pattern blocks so much, we wrote a whole blog post about different ways to use them.


3. Playing cards / UNO cards

Cards are great number generators and can be used to play loads of games, especially those that help students practise fact fluency (think number bonds to 10 and times tables).

We always have a pack of playing cards handy in our classrooms.

4. Dice

Again, dice can be used as great random number generators for lessons. They are also essential tools for many of the games and activities that make maths fun and engaging.

Beyond games, dice can be used to teach probability concepts, subitising in the younger grades, or by rolling multiple dice to create addition, subtraction or multiplication equations.


5. Building Blocks

You can reuse and recycle building blocks in your Maths lessons for any age group. Here are some examples:

  • Comparing or measuring lengths of objects

  • Writing on them and then ordering numbers in ascending or descending order

  • Writing on them to make a number path.


As we said, there are so many ways to use these simple materials, that you probably already have in your classroom.

If you are looking for inspiration and activities that you can implement in your classroom, you must join our FREE Maths Workshop.

This workshop focuses on trying different activities using concrete materials in your classroom (with students of all ages… yep, even Year 6!)

The workshop is only open during the April school holidays, and is completely FREE

Click this link to sign up.

What to read next:

Check out this free place value game

How to run Maths Groups with Success

3 things you need to stop doing as a new teacher

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