I’m sold on manipulatives, in every subject area, but then I’m a concrete kind of thinker anyhow. When I read about history, I’m making pictures in my mind. Actually, that happens when I read about anything, and if I can’t make a picture, I’m in trouble.
Math, especially, has been a problem area for me. (No pun intended.) Math instruction in my day involved memorizing a lot of concepts without necessarily applying them. I think we just did paper-and-pencil math (or chalkboard math) and no manipulatives in my schooling. I say this because when as a homeschool mom I bought my first math manipulatives after a fruitless struggle with several book-based (read that as “pencil-and-paper”) math curricula, I began to learn how math worked, right alongside Eldest.
Master Innovations is a company made up of people who have been figuring out ways to make math learning fun and interactive. Their first invention was the Master Ruler, and in the more than ten years since they’ve come up with more tools, including the Master Clock, Master Fractions, and the Master Angle. You can see videos introducing each of their products at their website.
Our family received the Master Angle tool and associated workbook, Mastering the World of Angles.
The Master Angle is a 360-degree protractor made of sturdy plastic. Small holes are punched through the plastic every five degrees so that you can use the tool to draw angles, as well as measure them. Grade level is upper elementary.
We had a lot of fun exploring the tool and setting up problems. Youngest was a little reluctant at first, because this was review for her. She covered angles a couple of years ago and has a pretty good grasp of how they work. However, I asked her to go through Mastering the World of Angles with me so that she could give a student’s opinion of the presentation.
The examples, explanations, and problems are presented in a concrete, interesting way — for example, students are given real-life representations of concepts (train tracks are parallel lines, street intersections are intersecting lines) and asked to come up with their own examples.
There’s a lot of practical, hands-on application in the workbook, and when we’d gone all the way through, Youngest elected to keep the tool in her pencil box for future use. Now that’s an endorsement!
A Master Angle is $5.95, and the accompanying workbook is $15.95. The workbook is reproducible for students within your own family or individual classroom. Here’s a link to the order page.
Marvels of Measurement Poster
We also received an educational poster showing relationships in linear measurement, weight and volume. Youngest knew how to measure an inch or a cubit, but it was interesting to compare the distance from our wrists to our elbows and come up with 8 inches (the poster said it should be a foot, but maybe that’s for a man. Come to think of it, that would make sense — that “foot” plus the length of a man’s hand would probably be about a cubit.
It was interesting to talk about the different representations on the poster (for example, fractions of a pound, dividing down to ounces, and liquid measures that she’s already familiar with through her cooking). The poster, once again, appeals to concrete thinking with its practical, everyday examples used to approximate various measurements.
See more about this poster at this link.
To read more TOS Crew reviews of Master Innovations products, click here.
Disclaimer: Our family received the Master Angle, accompanying workbook, and an educational poster about measurement, at no cost for the purpose of this review. No additional compensation was involved.