Have you seen a teenagers backpack? Three weeks into school and the protractor I asked them to buy is already in pieces in the bottom of their backpack. Books, binders, and a computer have been shoved into that backpack and the protractor is now broken. Or maybe they couldn’t afford school supplies to begin with. Protractors are not usually among the free supplies students can get. There are many reasons to use digital manipulatives, this is just one example, and inspiration behind my measuring angles activity. Created in Google Slides with a transparent protractor (google transparent protractor), students can move and rotate the protractor to practice measuring angles.
The balancing equations activity and the algebra tiles were created out of need for manipulatives but no funds to purchase them. Creating them digitally allowed me to have a set of manipulatives for every student.
A third reason to use digital manipulatives, blended and virtual learning. In this crazy Covid-19 time, we can’t send algebra tiles home with students, and not everyone has a protractor or ruler at home, but we can provide them with one digitally.
I create my manipulatives in Google Slides, but Google Drawing will work too. You can set any piece that you don’t want to move as the background so students don’t get frustrated. I may have learned this that hard way. Design the parts you don’t want to move. When you are ready, go to File – Download as PNG. Then click on the background button in the toolbar and choose an image from a file. Once the image is uploaded, you can delete everything. Your background will be behind it all. After your background is set, start creating the moving parts or parts you want the to type in.
Here are three digital manipulatives I’ve created for my classroom. If you use these in your classroom or with virtual learning, I would love to hear how it goes.