This is the second in a series of seven posts sharing reasons virtual manipulatives should be the cornerstone of interactive content in the classroom including specific practical examples.  (The previous post can be viewed here:  Part 1-Visualizing)

Virtual manipulatives help students to understand difficult concepts.  They help to make abstract concepts more easily understandable with visual tools.  A classic example is using base ten blocks to illustrate “regrouping” in a multi-digit addition or subtraction algorithm.  Students are given a concrete visualization to hold in their minds when they are computing to understand what is really happening mathematically.

Below are three manipulatives that help students explore difficult concepts.

Practice comparing and ordering fractions, simplifying fractions, or finding equivalent fractions on a number line that adjusts instantly.  Create fractions visually and then watch them plotted on the number line.

Explore the meaning of multiplication by viewing arrays paired with the traditional algorithm.

Do you have a student with writers block?  Or do you have a student who thinks writing is a chore?  Here are a few digital content resources that can help to inspire even the most reluctant authors:

http://www.buildyourwildself.com/

Story Starter

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/story-starters/

Spin the wheel for a randomized story starter sentence.  Keep spinning until a sentence sparks your imagination!

Share images from Chris Van Allsburg’s The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.  Here is a fantastic digital interpretation of several of the images: http://vimeo.com/33140656

How do you encourage creative writing in your classroom?

Steve Couch loves to train children in good behaviors through music, videos and cartoons.

He has performed his “Be a School Superhero” Bully Prevention show and his “I Like to Read” show for thousands of children throughout the Midwest. He also has three Creative Child and Parents’ Choice award winning children’s albums: “The World is a Rainbow”, Dinosaur Rhythms” and “Stop, Think, Choose”; an elementary school counselor’s training manual; and his “Step Up” Bullying Prevention DVD – available on his children’s training website www.ethics4schools.com

Ever since high school he has been a comedian, musician and performer and strives to use those talents to teach young children about the importance of healthy habits like reading, exercise, sharing and friendship. In 2001, he created and managed an interactive online training and video department for the national OSHA safety training company American Safety Training, where he feel in love with researching how humans learn.

Now he helps StarrMatica create engaging songs that entertain while teaching. “We are entering a golden age of human leaning, and the importance of StarrMatica’s mission can not be overemphasized.” says Steve. “It is a great honor for me to be able to help such a fine company use the latest technology.”

Check out Steve’s songs in StarrMatica’s new K-2 Telling Time lesson!