While teaching during the Covid-19 pandemic this year, teachers will need manipulatives that are easy to clean as well as inexpensive.
It would be so easy to resort to just photocopying worksheets, but that’s not how children learn best. Children need to use manipulatives, but here’s the dilemma with Covid-19 teaching materials:
- If you’re teaching distance learning, you need to send manipulatives home.
- If you’re teaching in-person classes, you have to clean manipulatives constantly or find enough to give each child their own set.
Flat marbles are the perfect manipulatives for Covid-19 teaching. Whether teaching in-person classes, distance learning, or a hybrid model, these flat marbles will work well for each model.
What are Flat Marble Manipulatives?
Flat marbles are the glass marbles with a flat bottom that are used as vase filler. They are widely available – you can get them from Dollar Tree, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, Amazon, and countless other places. They sometimes come in a net bag and sometimes come in larger quantities in a container. You can get them for as little as $1.00. If you’re searching for them online, they are usually called flat marbles or glass gems.
Why Use Flat Marbles for Manipulatives?
Flat marbles are an inexpensive and easy-to-clean manipulative for children to use during Covid-19 teaching times.
Since flat marbles are inexpensive, they can be sent home with students for distance learning without worrying if you will get them back. They are inexpensive enough to buy each child in your class their own personal set of manipulatives to keep in a supply tub.
They are also easy to clean!
To clean the flat marbles, just dump them in a tub of bleach water, or whatever you are required to use for disinfecting. These can be placed in a mesh lingerie bag or a mesh vegetable bag (Amazon affiliate links). Sit the bag in bleach water, and then hang the bag on a fence in the sun to dry.
I’ve been using flat marbles with my students for years because they work great as literacy and math manipulatives.
How to Store Flat Marbles
To store each child’s set, you can put them in a zip bag, a small yogurt container, or a baby food container. You can also use these rainbow photo craft boxes that are really popular with teachers right now.
One word of caution: I use these with older Pre-K children. I would not use them with children who put things in their mouth. If I sent them home, I would caution parents to keep them out of reach and only use them when they are able to supervise. I’ve used them for years and have never had an issue, but you never know.
I have lots and lots of free printables that you can use with these flat marbles. I’ll start with the literacy ones.
Covid-19 Teaching Resources: Literacy Activities
Use the flat marbles to make the letters. Find them here: Alphabet Printables
You can also print the full page letters with two per page to save paper. Get printing help here.
Letter Bingo Games
These might be the oldest printables on my site. 🙂 There are a variety of themes. Just print the page, write the letters or numerals or shapes you want to focus on the pictures. Play the game like bingo, using the flat marbles to cover. Find them here: Bingo Games
Letter Sound Cards
I have a set of these free on my site and another set in my TPT shop. The set in my shop has 4 cards for each letter. Use the flat marbles to cover the correct letter. Find them here: Letter Sound Cards (Free) and Letter Sound Cards (Shop)
You would probably use these later in the year. Have children clap the syllables in each word and count out the number of flat marbles to place with the picture card. Find them here: Syllable Cards
Letter Search Cards
Have children find the letter and cover it. Find them here: Alphabet Cards (Shop)
What Doesn’t Belong: Letters
Mark the picture that doesn’t belong. Find theme here: What Doesn’t Belong: Letters (Shop)
What Doesn’t Belong: Rhyming
Mark the picture that doesn’t belong. Find them here: What Doesn’t Belong: Rhyming (Shop)
Covid-19 Teaching Resources: Math Activities
Number Cards for Counting
Identify the numeral and count out the number of flat marbles. Find them here: Number Printables
Dice Cards for Counting
Count out the same amount to match. Find them here: Number Printables
5 Frame or 10 Frame Cards
Place the marbles directly on the dots and practice counting or place them beside each card. Find them here: Number Printables
Use these cards to practice counting or comparing more and less. Find them here: Dot Cards
Use these for counting and one to one correspondence. Available in various themes. Find them here: Grid Games
Play Dough Math Mats
There are many of these mats in a variety of themes. Normally used with play dough, you can also use the flat marbles. Find them here: Play Dough Math Mats
Roll and Cover Games
Practice numeral identification – available in many themes. Find them here: Roll and Cover
Find them here: Number Printables
Use these large number printables to form the letter. Find them here: Number Printables
Make the number and count the gumballs in the machine. Count out manipulatives to place on the 10 frame. Find them here: Number Printables
Roll dice and mark the number. Continue until one of the animals wins. Find them here: Wild Animal Race | Ocean Animal Race
These are normally play dough mats, but you can place the flat marbles on the lines to form the shape. Find them here: Shape Play Dough Mats
Find and mark the shapes – includes simple shapes and environmental shapes. Find them here: Dot Marker Shapes (Shop)
Ten Frame Games
These are available in many themes. Find them here: Ten Frame Games (Shop)
Slide & Count
This activity helps children who struggle with counting with 1:1 correspondence. Find theme here: Fall Slide and Count | Winter Slide and Count | Spring Slide and Count (Shop)
Shape & Number Search
Just like the letter search, you can also use these for shape search and number search. Find them here: Shape Cards | Number Cards (Shop)
What Doesn’t Belong: Shapes
Find and mark the shape that doesn’t belong. Find them here: What Doesn’t Belong: Shapes (Shop)
Three are the same and one is different. Find and mark the picture that is different. These sets are available in many themes. Find theme here: Visual Discrimination Printables
Save Color Ink!
You can print almost any full color printable in grayscale and it still looks good! This will save ink if you need to print and copy a set for every child to send in home learning packets. Get printing directions here.