Got Multilink® in your classroom but looking for inspiration for how to use it? We’ve compiled a list of ideas to help you out. One of the recommendations from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) in their Improving Mathematics in Key Stages 2 and 3 was and is to, “Use Manipulatives and representations.” As part of this advice, the EEF also said,
“Manipulatives (physical objects used to teach maths) and representations (such as number lines and graphs) can help pupils engage with mathematical ideas,” but to be wary that, “manipulatives and representations are just tools; how they are used is essential.”
With their advice and research in mind, we have put this list of ways to use Multilink® for you to refer to when teaching new concepts in maths.
Place value lessons
Once you have drawn out (or printed!) a place value chart, in can be helpful to use manipulatives to represent the numbers within the place value chart. Pupils can make numbers using the Multilink® and place them in the correct place value column.
Multilink® are great for teaching fractions. Begin with giving pupils 24 Multilink® and ask pupils to split them into 2 equal groups and question them on what ½ of 24 is, then 4 equal groups and question them on what ¼ is, etc.
You can fill in a bar graph template using Multilink®. These could be used during maths lessons, but also during investigation work in science. Use the Multilink® to represent units on the bar graph.
You can use Multilink® as a non-standard unit to measure items in the classroom or images of items you have compiled. This is a great introduction to measurement. Similarly, Multilink® can be used as a non-standard measurement of weight with scales.
Practising related facts and number bonds
Your pupils are expected to remember a series of different number facts, including number bonds up to 20. Multilink® are a great way to help pupils practise these related facts as well as investigate their meaning. Draw out a large circle for the ‘whole’ number and place the same amount of Multilink® in the circle. Then get pupils to investigate using additional Multilink® how many parts make the whole.
Compose, decompose and make number sentences
Related closely to number bonds, composing, decomposing and making number sentences with Multilink® makes for the perfect concrete step before using workbooks and whiteboards. Use the colours to represent different numbers in the number sentence.
Factors and multiples
Investigate how many rectangles can be made using the same amount of Multilink®. Have discussions about why some rectangles could be described as the same – as in they have made the same rectangle but just rotated it. Discard those and then discuss the number of cubes that equal the length of the rectangles – these are factors of the whole number. This should lead to a discussion about prime numbers too!
Teach pupils to tell the time
Begin by putting 5 groups of 12 in a straight line to represent the minutes on a clock. Use different colours of Multilink® to help with this. Then, break up the groups of 5 and place them into the circle of the clock, writing the numbers of the clock face inbetween the minutes (represented by the Multilink®).
Use Multilink® as a number line
It can be helpful for pupils getting to grips with subtraction and addition if you use Multilink® as the concrete representation of a number line. Again, the different colours can come in handy here, too.
Develop fine motor skills
Multilink® are the perfect size and design for small hands to handle and manipulate. Using Multilink® to investigate number in maths calls for pupils to handle and snap the small cubes together – great for developing fine motor skills.
Enquiry based learning
Enquiry based learning is a great way for pupils to engage in exploring new ideas by building on what they already know. Beginning with sorting Multilink® into colours and then getting pupils to arrange the piles in different ways can help to develop number sense and is a great basis for enquiry based learning.
If a child hasn’t yet mastered the manipulative stage of a mathematical problem, and has therefore not reached problem solving questions, consider allowing pupils to use manipulatives to investigate these types of questions. Pupils still need to have exposure to these investigative-style questions and using manipulatives could help them find the answer.
Multilink® are not just for EYFS
The EEF’s guide to using manipulatives applies to all students of mathematics. No matter what age or point in their education, going back to manipulatives helps. They, “should be temporary; they should act as a ‘scaffold’ that can be removed once independence is achieved.” But the need for manipulatives could come at any point a new concept is introduced, or, perhaps more commonly, in the event a child was moved on from a previous concept without mastering understanding at the manipulative stage.
From concrete to pictorial
Multilink® are a fantastic resource to take pupils from concrete to pictorial representation. The simple shape of Multilink® mean that it is easy to translate their appearance onto paper. Once the concrete stage has been mastered, simply draw the cubes on paper for the pictorial representation.
For everything you need to teach with Multilink®, you can see our entire range here.