Free & Affordable Math Manipulatives

As we dive deeper into our learning and understanding of early math concepts, I have started a collection of free and affordable math manipulatives to use with my preschool-aged son as we learn with hands-on math activities. It hasn’t taken much money to collect these different math manipulatives. In fact most of our manipulatives are objects and toys we already had. We have just given them another purpose, the purpose of hands-on math learning! 🙂 In this article you will get some ideas for objects to use as math manipulatives, as well as some ideas for how to use them and store them!

Free & Affordable Math Manipulatives for Kids to use with hands-on learning activities!

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Hands-On Activities for Kids

Free Math Manipulatives

There are many options for obtaining math manipulatives for free! One of the best ways to start collecting is through recycling or upcycling! Another way to get items for math manipulatives is to head outside and collect natural objects! Here is a list of ideas to collect:

Nature Manipulatives & Activities 


Free & Affordable Math Manipulatives

Affordable Math Manipulatives

I have also been collecting affordable math manipulatives from The Dollar Tree, Target Dollar Spot and Oriental Trading! These three stores always have an assortment of small objects that are perfect for using with hands-on math activities! Check out this list of cheap math manipulatives! 

Toys as Math Manipulatives

Small toys also make great math manipulatives! Some popular items I’ve seen used include Duplos, LEGOs, cars, and animal figures. Below are some great ideas using toys for learning math!

Food as Math Manipulatives

Another fun item I like to use occasional for hands-on math activities is food! Sugary cereals and candy are always a special treat in our house and make great math manipulatives! Dyed pasta and beans also make great math manipulatives! Below are some fun ideas for using food for learning math!

How to Store Math Manipulatives

Storing Math Manipulatives

I store many of our math manipulatives in this divider box. This box is large enough to store a good amount of small objects and the dividers keep them all organized! I also keep more manipulatives in plastic baggies in a clear plastic shoe box container. Both of these options work well for us.

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6 thoughts on “Free & Affordable Math Manipulatives”

  1. Love this post great ideas , favs in our house are shells and conkers (horse chestnunts). Lots of other lovely ideas(I’ve pinned too)

  2. Emma says:

    I especially love the recyclables – I never realized how many things could be math manipulatives!

    1. Samantha says:

      Yes its true many can be used as manipulatives!

  3. Abhi says:

    I liked this post alot. Lovely and wonderful ideas for math manipulatives that kids can do.

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