Math manipulatives are really anything that kids can touch and teachers can use to explain math concepts. Math manipulatives are not limited to classrooms. They don’t have to be bought at a teacher store. The best math manipulatives are things kids are familiar with; their toys, shape blocks, pizza shaped toys, money/coins, actual clocks which we can hold in our hands and manipulate the hands ourselves. Explaining math through play really helps. I always tell kids “think in terms of money” when they do basic operation. Most of them come up with an answer right away, when they think in familiar terms. Transferring knowledge and helping kids make visual and mental connections is so easy, fun, important, and it sticks. They remember stuff better when related or tactile. So, yes, we do need math manipulatives. Back in the day (when I was young), I honestly found the term annoying, but it really matters. Even presenting geometry to 5th graders with simple shapes is more effective than any interactive game or worksheet. It just works.