Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The use of manipulatives in Mathematics

As you can see, manipulatives can help a student to understand a Mathematical concept so imagine what it can do when teaching visually impaired children.

Mathematics and manipulatives for visually impaired children

Mathematics can be quite a challenging subject for anyone, especially as you get older as it becomes more abstract. Now imagine this situation if you are teaching visually impaired children. What started as a challenge now seems like a nightmare. Let's explore ways to help your student understand Mathematical concepts while enjoying it at the same time. The secret ? It is called "manipulatives".

  • For example, if you are teaching a young student to add, subtract or the position of numbers, you might wish to use an abacus or objects such as blocks, counting toys or even concrete material such as cereal or pasta.

  • If your student is older, you might wish to use a special calculator that displays numbers on the keys that are written in braille as well as vocal answers as some of the useful features.

  • If you teach about shapes, use blocks, foam shapes or objects that represent these specific shapes.

  • If you are teaching the concept of colours, make sure to use objects of different textures, sizes or shapes to help your student to identify these colours. If your student is able to observe to a certain degree the colours, use some flamboyant colours. Avoid pastels and shades as they could be confusing for your visually impaired student.

  • If you are teaching the time, use a large 3D clock that your student may touch, feel and position as desired. Braille numbers are also a good feature.

  • Depending of the percentage of sight or the visual type of impairment affecting your student's vision, you may be able to use the computer as an important tool as you may choose the size of the font, the colour of both the font and the background and may be able to use several types of programs ranging from a calculator to Mathematical programs.

As you can see, there are multiple ways to make learning both easier and motivating for your visually impaired student. Have fun exploring and feel free to share ideas and experiences with me.