Educational Studies in Mathematics
Teachers often comment that using manipulatives to teach mathematics is ‘fun!’ Embedded in the word ‘fun’ are important notions about how and why teachers use manipulatives in the teaching of mathematics. Over the course of one academic year, this study examined 10 middle grades teachers’ uses of manipulatives for teaching mathematics using interviews and observations to explore how and why the teachers used the manipulatives as they did. An examination of the participants’ statements and behaviors indicated that using manipulatives was little more than a diversion in classrooms where teachers were not able to represent mathematics concepts themselves. The teachers communicated that the manipulatives were fun, but not necessary, for teaching and learning mathematics.
Moyer, P. S. (2001). Are we having fun yet? How teachers use manipulatives to teach mathematics. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 47(2), 175-197.