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Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, Vol. 1, No. 1, 1999

**‘Concrete’ Manipulatives, Concrete
**

Ideas

DOUGLAS H. CLEMENTS

State University of New York, Buffalo, USA

**ABSTRACT The notion of ‘concrete,’ from concrete manipulatives to
**

pedagogical sequences such as ‘concrete to abstract,’ is embedded in

educational theories, research, and practice, especially in mathematics

education. In this article, the author considers research on the use of

manipulatives and offers a critique of common perspectives on the notions of

concrete manipulatives and concrete ideas. He offers a reformulation of the

definition of ‘concrete’ as used in psychology and education and provides

illustrations of how, accepting that reformulation, computer manipulatives may

be pedagogically efficacious.

**The notion of ‘concrete,’ from concrete manipulatives to pedagogical
**

sequences such as ‘concrete to abstract,’ is embedded in educational

theories, research, and practice, especially in mathematics education. While

such widely accepted notions often have a good deal of truth behind them,

they can also become immune from critical reflection. In this article, I will

briefly consider research on the use of manipulatives and offer a critique of

common perspectives on the notions of concrete manipulatives and concrete

ideas. From a reformulation of these notions, I re-consider the role computer

manipulatives may play in helping students learn mathematics, providing

illustrations from our empirical research.

**Research on Concrete Manipulatives
**

Students who use manipulatives in their mathematics classes usually

outperform those who do not (Driscoll, 1983; Greabell, 1978; Raphael &

Wahlstrom, 1989; Sowell, 1989; Suydam, 1986), although the benefits may

be slight (Anderson, 1957). This benefit holds across grade level, ability

level, and topic, given that use of a manipulative ‘makes sense’ for that

topic. Manipulative use also increases scores on retention and problem

solving tests. Attitudes toward mathematics are improved when students

45

4 longs. professional standards suggest students have a wide range of understandings and tools (Ball. and 1 single after reading the decimals ‘three hundred forty one. For example. One study showed that classes not using manipulatives outperformed classes using manipulatives on a test of transfer (Fennema. For example.41. the physical objects may be manipulated meaningfully without the concepts being illuminated.’ connected with one’s intuitively meaningful personal self. it cannot be assumed that concepts can be ‘read off’ manipulatives. 1989). In contrast. although research might suggest that instruction begin ‘concretely. manipulatives do not guarantee success (Baroody. looking at the rods and doing things with them. we must further define what we mean by ‘concrete. Similarly. students often fail to link their actions on base-ten blocks with the notation system used to describe the actions (Thompson & Thompson. In contrast. CLEMENTS have instruction with concrete materials provided by teachers knowledgeable about their use (Sowell. Problems Attributing Benefits of Concrete Manipulatives to their Physical Nature First. To understand the role of concrete manipulatives and any concrete-to-abstract pedagogical sequence. There are.’ it also warns that manipulatives are not sufficient to guarantee meaningful learning. Working with Cuisenaire rods. 1989). In summary. 1992). 1992). when asked to ‘select a block to stand for one. then put blocks out to represent 3. This sensory nature ostensibly makes manipulatives ‘real. all teachers emphasized learning with understanding. however.’ The Meaning of ‘Concrete’ Most practitioners and researchers argue that manipulatives are effective because they are concrete. could see how the world of numbers and numerical operations 46 . John Holt said that he and his fellow teacher ‘were excited about the rods because we could see strong connections between the world of rods and the world of numbers. 1995). Both teachers and parents often believe that reform in mathematics education indicates that ‘concrete’ is good and ‘abstract’ is bad.’ they probably mean objects that students can grasp with their hands. 1990). By ‘concrete.’ Finally. teachers often use manipulatives as a way to reform their mathematics teaching. without reflecting on their use of representations of mathematical ideas or on the other aspects of their instruction that must be changed (Grant et al. That is. problems with this view (cf Metz.’ one fourth-grader put out 3 flats.DOUGLAS H. and therefore helpful. but have learned little more. They perform the correct steps. In this study. students sometimes learn to use manipulatives only in a rote manner. a student working on place value with beans and beansticks used the (one) bean as ten and the beanstick (with ten beans on it) as one (Hiebert & Wearne. 1972). However. We therefore assumed that children. 1996).

CONCRETE IDEAS worked. Students may require concrete materials to build meaning initially. for to do so they have to count ‘six. Therefore. 47). B: 1. 1991). Holt. nine’ and at the same time count the counts – 6 is 1. 1992. 3 (touches each visible item in turn) I: There’s four here (taps the cloth). This did not help them solve the problem mentally. a primary grade student. and so on. Teachers of later grades expect students to have a concrete understanding that goes beyond manipulatives. researchers found a mismatch among students using the number line to perform addition. when we speak of concrete understanding. revealing two squares) 4. but they must reflect on their actions with manipulatives to do so. p. but was thwarted by interviewer. as did the student who used the bean as ten and the beanstick as one to illustrate place value. 5. at early stages. The trouble with this theory is that [my colleague] and I already knew how the numbers worked. 2. It appears that there are different ways to think about ‘concrete. Consider Brenda. Further. ‘Oh. their physicality does not carry the meaning of the mathematical idea. seven. They need teachers who can reflect on their students’ representations for mathematical ideas and help them develop increasing sophisticated and mathematical representations. counted ‘one. we are not always referring to physical objects. add. 7 is 2. and asked how many in all. B: (Lifts the cloth. four. 1992. the rods behaved just the way numbers do. or subtract meaningfully unless they have actual things.’ But if we hadn’t known how numbers behaved. These researchers also found that students’ external actions on an abacus do not always match the mental activity intended by the teacher. For example. would looking at the rods enable us to find out? Maybe so. we like to see that numbers – as mental objects (‘I can think of 13 + 10 in my head’) – are ‘concrete’ for older students. The interviewer had covered 4 of 7 squares with a cloth. Brenda tried to raise the cloth. (touches each and puts cloth back). children cannot count. For example. 47 . These actions are quite different (Gravemeijer. eight. three. maybe not’ ( see a similar argument in Ball. two. understanding does not travel through the fingertips and up the arm’ (Ball. the students located 5. even if children begin to make connections between manipulatives and nascent ideas. She then counted the three visible squares. ‘Although kinesthetic experience can enhance perception and thinking. When adding 5 + 4.‘CONCRETE’ MANIPULATIVES. Second. For example.’ and read the answer. 1982). They can even be used in a rote manner. We could say. although manipulatives have an important place in learning. told Brenda that 4 were covered.’ Two Types of Concrete Knowledge We have Sensory-Concrete knowledge when we need to use sensory material to make sense of an idea. physical actions with certain manipulatives may suggest different mental actions than those we wish students to learn.

tangible. Ideas such as ‘75. 1985). There’s four here. B: (Attempts to lift the cloth. physical knowledge is a different kind 48 . ‘…numbers are made by children.50. 1996). they are constructions – reinventions—of each human mind. abstract. 4. While still in primary school. It is knowledge that is connected in special ways. She needed physically present items to count.) I: (Pulls back the cloth. For students with this type of interconnected knowledge.’ ‘¾. physical objects. Sue McMillen’s son Jacob read a problem on a restaurant place mat asking for the answer to ¾ +¾. for example) or accepted from adults (as they may accept and use a toy)’ (Sinclair. Kamii. 2 (then counts each visible): 3. 1990. you count them. Kamii. Therefore. (Steffe & Cobb.’ and ‘rectangle’ become as real. 1988) Brenda’s attempt to lift the cloth indicates that she was aware of the hidden squares and wanted to count the collection. Note that this does not mean that manipulatives were the original root of the idea. Clements & Battista. As Piaget’s collaborator Hermine Sinclair says. 1988). v). 1997. it might be Sensory-Concrete. He solved the problem by thinking about the fractions in terms of money: 75¢ plus 75¢ is $1. I’ll show you two of them (shows two) . What ultimately makes mathematical ideas Integrated-Concrete is not their physical characteristics. What gives Integrated-Concrete thinking its strength is the combination of many separate ideas in an interconnected structure of knowledge. Research tends to indicate that is not the case (Gelman & Williams. Further.’ What gives sidewalk concrete its strength is the combination of separate particles in an interconnected mass. B: 1. Foreword. in Steffe & Cobb. 5 I: There’s two more here (taps the cloth). Kamii. 1973. and strong as a concrete sidewalk. we as educators can not engineer mathematics into Sensory-Concrete materials. Jacob’s knowledge of money was in the process of becoming such a tool for him. 1991). 1986. so ¾ +¾ is 1½ (Clements & McMillen. p. The child creates ‘four’ by building a representation of number and connecting it with either physical or pictured blocks (Clements. Klein & Starkey.) B: 6. Integrated-Concrete knowledge is built as we learn. and abstractions are all interrelated in a strong mental structure. 1989. an idea is not simply concrete or not concrete. Depending on what kind of relationship you have with the knowledge (Wilensky. Indeed. 1988. ‘Fourness’ is no more ‘in’ four blocks than it is ‘in’ a picture of four blocks. 7 (touches the last two squares). because ideas such as number are not ‘out there. CLEMENTS I: Ok. actions performed on them. This did not lead to counting because she could not yet coordinate saying the number word sequence with items that she only imagined. or Integrated-Concrete.DOUGLAS H. not found (as they may find some pretty rocks. This is the root of the word concrete – ‘to grow together. Each idea is as concrete as a wrench is to a plumber – an accessible and useful tool.’ As Piaget has shown us.

one group of young students learned number concepts with a computer felt board environment. and connecting various representations of mathematical ideas. we see a shift in what the adjective ‘concrete’ describes. and extensible than their physical counterparts. sticks. computers might provide representations that are just as personally meaningful to students as physical objects. some research indicates that pictures are as effective for learning as physical manipulatives (Scott & Neufeld. Also. and capricious as the numbers that these blocks were supposed to bring to life’ (Holt. 1989). 1987). research indicates that computer representations may even be more manageable. Indeed. arbitrary. Sensory-Concrete refers to knowledge that demands the support of concrete objects and children’s knowledge of manipulating these objects. For example. and sometimes greater control and flexibility to students (Char. CONCRETE IDEAS of knowledge than logical/mathematical knowledge. 1976). 1993) I do not believe there are fundamentally different. mysterious. Paradoxically. What makes ideas Integrated-Concrete is how ‘meaning-full’ – connected to other ideas and situations – they are. we might have difficulty accepting objects on the computer screen as valid manipulatives. They constructed ‘bean-stick pictures’ by selecting and arranging beans. Integrated-Concrete refers to concepts that are ‘concrete’ at a higher level because they are connected to other knowledge. both physical knowledge that has been abstracted and thus distanced from concrete objects and abstract knowledge of a variety of types. However. However. They found the blocks … as abstract. The computer manipulatives were just as meaningful and easier to use for learning. 49 . such as ‘concrete’ versus ‘abstract. ‘clean. Comparing the two levels of concrete knowledge. John Holt reported that children who already understood numbers could perform the tasks with or without the blocks. Good manipulatives are those that aid students in building. incommensurable types of knowledge. (Anderson. addressing the issues of pedagogical sequencing.’ flexible. Compared to a physical bean-stick environment. 1982). as disconnected from reality. Both computer and physical beansticks were worthwhile. these are descriptions of changes in the configuration of knowledge as children develop. it is more often true that younger children possess the relevant knowledge but cannot effectively create a mental representation of the necessary information (Greeno & Riley. Consistent with other theoreticians. according to Piaget (Kamii. strengthening. Ultimately. this computer environment offered equal.’ The Nature of ‘Concrete’ Manipulatives and the Issue of Computer Manipulatives Even if we agree that ‘concrete’ can not simply be equated with physical manipulatives. This is where good manipulatives can play an important role. ‘But children who could not do these problems without the blocks didn’t have a clue about how to do them with the blocks …. and number symbols.‘CONCRETE’ MANIPULATIVES. However. 1973). we often assume that more able or older students’ greater facility with mathematics stems from their greater knowledge or mathematical procedures or strategies.

1989). Children create as many copies of each shape as they want and use computer tools to move. 1988). in the mind of the beholder. Good manipulatives are those that are meaningful to the learner. or are consistent with. Kamii (1989).DOUGLAS H. Like beauty. (© Douglas H. then ‘concrete’ is. provide control and flexibility to the learner. Figure 1. CLEMENTS work with one did not need to precede work with the other. 1989. Clements & Julie Sarama). that extends what children can do with these shapes (see Figure 1). one of the staunchest of Piagetians. Shapes: a computer manipulative Let us consider several (concrete!) examples. students who used physical and software manipulatives demonstrated a much greater sophistication in classification and logical thinking than did a control group that used physical manipulatives only (Olson. and assist the learner in making connections between various pieces and types of knowledge – in a word. quite literally. Finally. Computer manipulatives can serve that function. It is ironic that Piaget’s period of concrete operations is often used. as a rationalization for ‘objects-for-objects’ sake in elementary school. a software version of pattern blocks. combine. eschews much traditional use of manipulatives. Shapes is a computer manipulative. cognitive and mathematics structures. have characteristics that mirror. a study of eighth graders indicated that a physical. and duplicate these shapes to make pictures and designs and to solve problems. mechanical device did not make mathematics more accessible. Kamii. 1998). Shapes™ a computer manipulative. though a computer microworld did (Meira. serving as a catalyst for the growth of Integrated-Concrete knowledge. Good concrete activity is good mental activity (Clements. 50 . In a similar vein. incorrectly.

e. 1. they can ‘freeze’ them into position. children quickly learned to glue the shapes together and move them as a group when they needed more space to continue their designs. He said. we provide illustrations from our participant observation research with kindergarten-age children (see Sarama et al. We observed that while working on the Shapes software. That is. Marissa told Leah to fix the design. 1996. These are described in the following sections in two categories: (a) practical and pedagogical benefits. The girls experienced considerable frustration at their inability to get their ‘old’ design back. especially one in which careful development can take place day after day (i. one that can store and retrieve configurations. we have observed children making non-equilateral triangles by partially occluding shapes with other shapes. Providing an extensible manipulative. and (b) mathematical and psychological benefits. We observed this advantage when a group of children were working on a pattern with physical manipulatives. For example. CONCRETE IDEAS Shapes was designed on theoretical and research bases to provide children with specific benefits. Making right angles by combining and occluding various shapes is a similar example. clean. their group project would have continued. it was revealed that the child knew that the two shapes were not the same. At the end he was left with a space that only a green triangle would fit. Practical/pedagogical benefits. or had they been able to move their design and keep the pieces together. but that two green triangles is the same as one 51 . Two girls (four hands) tried to keep the design together. for details). This first group includes advantages that help students in a practical manner or provide pedagogical opportunities for the teacher. Matthew was taking his turn working with the physical manipulatives (off-computer) and was trying to fill in an outline of a man using all blue diamonds. Shapes manipulatives are more manageable and clean than their physical counterparts. but in re-creating the design. 2. they always snap into correct position even when filling an outline and – also unlike physical manipulatives – they stay where they are put. Leah tried. she inserted two extra shapes and the pattern wasn’t the same. Providing a manageable. For example. physical blocks have to be put away most of the time – on the computer. creating many different types of triangle. As an illustration. they can be saved and worked on again and again. flexible manipulative. Providing another medium.’ Upon further questioning. but they were unsuccessful. If children want them to stay where they’re put no matter what. trying to build triangles from different classes. 3. They wanted to move it slightly on the rug. For several. and there’s an infinite supply for all children). Certain constructions are easier to make with the software than with physical manipulatives. ‘If I was on computer I could make it all blue. Had the children been able to save their design.‘CONCRETE’ MANIPULATIVES. Shapes serves as another medium for building.

After placing the next one. Bringing mathematical ideas and processes to conscious awareness. he quickly manipulated the pattern block pieces. CLEMENTS blue diamond. altering all shapes or only some.’ When working on-computer he again seemed very sure of himself and quickly manipulated the shapes. he counted with his finger on the screen around the center of the incomplete hexagon. For example. ‘Three. Creating and operating on units of units. he seemed more aware of his actions. he was becoming explicitly aware of the motions and beginning to quantify them. The built-in turn and flip tools are a good way to bring geometric motions to an explicit level of awareness and explicate these motions. 4. but this is time consuming and should not be required all the time.) Mathematical/psychological benefits. Shapes encourages composition and decomposition of shapes. avoiding answering the questions. Changing the very nature of the manipulative. ‘Whoa! Now. (Although we are also in favor of kids recording their work with templates and/or cut-outs.g. The glue tool allows children to glue shapes together to make composite units. he said. The flatness of the screen allows for such ‘building up’ and thus explorations of these types of relationships. Mitchell started making a hexagon out of triangles. Shapes’ flexibility allows children to explore geometric figures in ways not available with physical shape sets. 3. In addition.g. illustrates this benefit. He announced that he would need four more. three more!’ Whereas off-computer. 1. He struggled with the answer and then finally said that he ‘turned it. With tools such as the glue and hammer. For example. imaging the other triangles. recognizing that he could overlap the diamonds and be able to exactly cover a triangle space. children can change the size of the computer shapes. the intentional and deliberate actions on the computer lead him to form mental images (decomposing the hexagon imagistically) and predict each succeeding placement. resisting answering any questions as to his intent or his reasons.’ without hesitation. in that when asked how many times he turned a particular piece. Perhaps the most powerful feature of the software is that the actions possible with the software embody the processes we want children to develop and internalize as mental processes. Recording and extending work. when Mitchell worked off-computer. The example of Matthew wanting to make an all blue man. post-it paper copies. However. so half would go on the other shapes. The printouts make instant record-your-work. a researcher asked him how he had made a particular piece fit. the hammer tool allows children to decompose one shape (e. take-it-home. a hexagon) into other shapes (e. When he finally paused. 2. Mitchell had to check each placement with a physical hexagon.DOUGLAS H. 4. After placing two. Allowing composition and decomposition processes. he said. a process difficult to duplicate with physical manipulatives. The hammer tool allows the decomposition of those shapes. Thus. two trapezoids). Shapes allows the construction of units of units in children’s tilings 52 .

in subtracting. We can record our actions and later replay. Connecting space/geometry learning to number learning. Thus. they can elect to receive the same tetrominoes in the same order and try a new approach. As an example. A set of ungrouped objects. Only grouped shapes turn as a unit. This can help students make sense of their activity and the numbers. 5.‘CONCRETE’ MANIPULATIVES. the actions children perform on the computer are a reflection of the mental operations we wish to help children develop. students try to cover a region with a random sequence of tetrominoes (see Figure 2). This encourages real mathematical exploration. For example. so that when the student changes the blocks the number displayed is automatically changed as well. Again. If students believe they could improve their strategy. CONCRETE IDEAS and linear patterns. can be turned together.g. which helps them build Integrated-Concrete knowledge. Geometric models are used ubiquitously to teach about number. 53 . But computers have the power to record and replay sequences of our actions on manipulatives. Shapes’ manipulative sets include on-screen base-ten blocks. the number represented by the base-ten blocks is dynamically linked to the students’ actions on the blocks. 1995b). The computer also links the blocks to the symbols. Shapes helps in that it dynamically links spatial and numerical representation. In one version. However. it’s often difficult to reflect on them. Once we finish a series of actions. Computers encourage students to make their knowledge explicit. such actions are more in line with the mental actions that we want students to learn. Whereas physical blocks must be ‘traded’ (e. and view them. students can break a computer base-ten block into 10 ones. change. Computer games such as ‘Tetris’ allow students to replay the same game. Benefits of Other Computer Manipulatives Other programs we have developed illustrate – better than Shapes does – some additional advantages of computer manipulatives. Recording and Replaying Students’ Actions Computers allow us to store more than static configurations. Tumbling Tetrominoes (Clements et al. in that case each shape turns separately. One of the most powerful benefits of the computer is to help children link their ideas and processes about number and arithmetic to their ideas about shape and space. for example. students may need to trade 1 ten for 10 ones).

we already established that a major advantage of the computer is the ability to link active experience with objects to symbolic representations. the figure will not be a rectangle. except that four squares are connected together with full sides touching. the actions of the turtle object. students must analyze the figure to construct a sequence of commands (a procedure) to draw a rectangle (see Figure 3). students attempt to tile tetrominoes – shapes that are like dominoes. Clements & Battista. Studies confirm that students’ ideas about shapes are more mathematical and precise after using Logo (Clements & Battista. For example. Some students understand certain ideas. students can draw rectangles by hand. move. Research indicates that playing such games involves conceptual and spatial reasoning (Bright et al. CLEMENTS Figure 2. The computer connects objects that you make. Students can elect to replay a game to improve their strategy. and the figure are direct and immediate.DOUGLAS H. for the first time using Logo. 1992). For example. They have to make sense of what it is that is being 54 . So. 1992). This helps them become explicitly aware of such characteristics as ‘opposite sides equal in length. such as angle measure. When playing Tumbling Tetrominoes. and change to numbers and words. but never go further thinking about them in a mathematical way. Linking the Concrete and the Symbolic with Feedback Other advantages go beyond convenience.’ If instead of fd 75 they enter fd 90. 1989. they have to apply numbers to the measures of the sides and angles (turns). The link between the symbols. In Logo. however.

students can not overlook the consequences of their actions. Instead. Students formalize about fives times as often using computers as they do using paper (Hoyles et al. one group of students worked with a computer base-ten manipulative. Turtle Math (© Douglas H. In computer environments such as computer base-ten blocks or computer programming. they appeared to look at the two as separate activities. Although teachers frequently guided students to see the connection between what they did with the blocks and what they wrote on paper. computers help students link Sensory-Concrete and abstract knowledge so they can build Integrated-Concrete knowledge. The commands are listed in the command center on the left (Clements et al. they develop an awareness of these quantities and the geometric ideas of angle and rotation (Kieran & Hillel.‘CONCRETE’ MANIPULATIVES. Thompson & Thompson. Figure 3. tying them tightly to symbolic representations. Clements & Julie S. In comparison. The students could not move the computer blocks directly. less ‘freedom’ might be more helpful. 1990). 1992. whereas that is possible to do with physical manipulatives. see also). the physical blocks group did not feel constrained to write something that represented what they did with blocks. CONCRETE IDEAS controlled by the numbers they give to right and left turn commands. So. The turtle helps them link the symbolic command to a Sensory-Concrete turning action. In a study of place value. 1991). Is it too restrictive or too hard to have to operate on symbols rather than directly on the manipulatives? Ironically. Students use a new version of Logo. Fortunately. 1994. 55 . tending to connect them to the base-ten blocks. Receiving feedback from their explorations over several tasks. Another group of students used physical base-ten blocks. the computer group used symbols more meaningfully. Clements & Meredith. they had to operate on symbols (Thompson. 1995a. so they have to formalize their ideas to communicate them. students are not surprised that the computer does not understand natural language. Instead. Meredith and LCSI). to construct a rectangle. computer manipulatives can help students build on their physical experiences. In this way. 1990).

1994) Final Words: concrete manipulatives and integrated-concrete ideas Manipulatives can play a role in students’ construction of meaningful ideas. 1994). students using the computer specified motions to the computer. definitions of what constitute a ’manipulative’ may need to be expanded to include computer manipulatives. Clements. other common perspectives on using manipulatives should be re-considered. Manipulatives alone are not sufficient – they must be used in the context of educational tasks to actively engage children’s thinking with teacher guidance. 1997) or – as I suspect may be best – all three in parallel. rather than just the shapes (Johnson-Gentile et al. Metz. reflected on. Explanations Compared to students using paper and pencil. Precise. students using computers work with more precision and exactness (Gallou-Dumiel. we attempted to help a group of students using noncomputer manipulatives become aware of these motions. at certain phases of learning. This led to more discussion of the motions themselves. We then need to guide students to make connections between these representations (Lesh. we should choose meaningful representations in which the objects and actions available to the student parallel the mathematical objects (ideas) and actions (processes or algorithms) we wish the students to learn. In addition. which does not ‘already understand. descriptions of the motions were generated from. 1989. We should be careful about adhering blindly to an unproved concrete ‘pictorial’ abstract sequence. We do not yet know what modes of presentations are crucial and what sequence of representations we should use before symbols are introduced (Baroody. Teachers and students should avoid using manipulatives as an end – without careful thought – rather than as a means to that end. However. A manipulative’s physical nature does not carry the meaning of a mathematical idea. and when they reflect on the constraints of the manipulatives that embody the principles of a mathematics system 56 . as opposed to the reverse sequence (Parmar & Cawley.’ There have been. 1989. With both physical and computer manipulatives. When students connect manipulative models to their intuitive. and corrected. In one study. 1995). Johnson-Gentile et al. In contrast. no studies that actually have evaluated the usefulness of this sequence. physical motions of students who understood the task. 1989. However. CLEMENTS Encouraging and Facilitating Complete. informal understanding of concepts and to abstract symbols. which. such as teaching algorithms. when they learn to translate between representations. and interpreted by. They should be used before formal symbolic instruction. 1990). may be more efficacious than their physical counterparts.DOUGLAS H. especially when there is more than one way of thinking about ‘concrete. to my knowledge. The results of these commands were observed.’ The specification had to be thorough and detailed.

S. (1989) Learning of geometric concepts in a Logo environment. Buffalo. Arithmetic Teacher. D. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall. D. 37(2). & Williams. 46-47. 196-203. (1992) Magical hopes: manipulatives and the reform of math education. H. pp.) (1993) Rules of the Mind. MDR-8954664. A. L. and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation. 420-464). March.) Handbook of Research on Mathematics Teaching and Learning (pp. & Battista. V.. March. Clements. 14. (1989) Computers in Elementary Mathematics Education. NY 14260. R. M. J. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education . 20. H. S. Usnick. (Ed. pp. J. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum. D. Meredith. Cambridge: Dale Seymour Publications. (1957) Visual-tactual devices and their efficacy: an experiment in grade eight. Arithmetic Teacher.buffalo. References Anderson. & Battista. D. pp. M. Clements. 505 Baldy Hall (North Campus). Correspondence Douglas H. E. New York: Macmillan. 38(1). State University of New York at Buffalo. Any opinions. T. M. This should be the goal of our use of manipulatives. (1989) Manipulatives don’t come with guarantees. Graduate School of Education. 4. & McMillen. Paper presented at the meeting of the Eastern Educational Research Association.. C. American Educator. (1992) Orientation of shapes in a video game. Clements. Char. D. Bright. MDR-9050210. San Francisco. Ball.. Clements. in D. and ESI-9730804. 57 . 450-467. 16(2). they build Integrated-Concrete ideas. D. R. Woolley.. M. Clements. G. Anderson. 34-35. H. Acknowledgements This article is an update of Clements & McMillen (1996). 16-18. Arithmetic Teacher. H. Time to prepare this material was partially provided by the National Science Foundation under Grants No. Baroody. (1989) Computer graphic feltboards: new software approaches for young children’s mathematical exploration.. & Battista. Hilton Head. (1995a) Turtle paths.edu). 1990). A. T. H. pp. USA (clements@acsu. Clements. Grouws (Ed. CONCRETE IDEAS (Thompson & Thompson.‘CONCRETE’ MANIPULATIVES. J. V. Akers. Paper presented at the meeting of the American Educational Research Association. Battista. J. T. (1992) Geometry and spatial reasoning. pp. findings. (1990) Constructivist learning and teaching. T. 4-5. SC. S. A. G.

& McMillen. Hoyles. H. C. D. (1994) The effects of computer and noncomputer environments on students’ conceptualizations of geometric motions. M. pp.) Realistic Mathematics Education in Primary School (pp. Gravemeijer. & Williams. M.. (1996) Rethinking ‘concrete’ manipulatives. Clements. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education. (1991) Patterns of discussion between pupil pairs in computer and non-computer environments.. turns. J. 33(2). and Understanding (pp.. point symmetry and Logo. Goldin & R. CLEMENTS Clements. Peterson. E. S. Grant.DOUGLAS H. P. R. K. Johnson-Gentile. G. B. M.) Proceedings of the Eleventh Annual Meeting. 23. Greabell. G. H. J. (1987) Processes and development of understanding. H. Montreal: Logo Computer Systems. J. D. D. A. L. pp. Norwood: Ablex. Driscoll. (1982) How Children Fail. S. (1983) Research within Reach: elementary school mathematics and reading. St Louis: CEMREL. Davis (Ed. 233-238. (1994) Turtle Math [Computer program]. in D. (1996) Learning to teach mathematics in the context of system reform.. Maher. American Educational Research Journal. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education. R. & Meredith. Tierney. New York: Dell. Teaching Children Mathematics. G. (1989) Reflections. S. M. pp. 98-122. North American Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (pp. H. New Brunswick: Rutgers University. L. J. C. K. in L. Gallou-Dumiel.. Russell. 11. & Riley. Weinert & R. 2(5). E.. Inc. (1978) The effect of stimuli input on the acquisition of introductory geometric concepts by elementary school children. P. & Battista. Hiebert. Clements. M. D. J. J. Inc. 7. S. Greeno. Utrecht: Freudenthal Institute. 320-326. (1995b) 2-D Geometry: flips. Clements. Battista. 57-76). 55-82). Cambridge: Dale Seymour Publications. & Wearne. D.) Metacognition. (LCSI). pp. E. E. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning. Streefland (Ed. T. 289-313). T. 270-279. (1991) An instruction-theoretical reflection on the use of manipulatives. in C. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Holt. C. H. 58 .. 210-228. pp. & Shojgreen-Downer. in R. L. Journal of Educational Computing Research . pp. 78. Motivation. and area. Fennema. 509-541. 121-140. S. Gelman. pp. 149-157). Tirosh (Ed. & Meredith. E.) Implicit and Explicit Knowledge: an educational approach (pp. 3. A. & Sutherland. Utrecht University. J. S. Healy. (1992) Links between teaching and learning place value with understanding in first grade. (1997) Constructivism and supporting environments. School Science and Mathematics. Kluwe (Ed. A. (1972) The relative effectiveness of a symbolic and a concrete model in learning a selected mathematics principle.

30. Mathematics. (1985) Young Children Reinvent Arithmetic: implications of Piaget’s theory. P. K. pp. F. 81-110). Review of Educational Research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. C. E. 20. Implications of Piaget’s Theory. Gearhart (Ed. pp.) Piaget in the Classroom (pp. & Starkey. manipulative. Saxe & M. Budapest: International Congress of Mathematics Education. C. D. and Environmental Education.) Proceedings of the Eighteenth Annual Meeting of the North America Chapter of the International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education (pp. Journal of Learning Disabilities. Kieran. Schwebel & J. C. M. pp. & Hillel. pp. 1. Parmar. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education . 65. Meira. School Science and Mathematics. K. (1989) The influence of instructional aids on mathematics achievement. Columbus: ERIC Clearinghouse for Science. J. S. B. Lesh. 93-127. Jakubowski. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education. Kamii. F. C. 27-54). Clements.) Assessing Higher Order Thinking in Mathematics (pp. Journal of Mathematical Behavior. L. Watkins & H. C. pp. K. pp. A. (1988) Microcomputers Make Manipulatives Meaningful. B. E. 567-572). Sowell. 498-505. (1988) Universals in the development of early arithmetic cognition. R. 9.. (1989) Young Children Continue to Reinvent Arithmetic: 2nd grade. 121-142. Sarama. D. CONCRETE IDEAS Kamii. (1989) Effects of manipulative materials in mathematics instruction. Biske (Ed. in G. 76. (1998) Making sense of instructional devices: the emergence of transparency in mathematical activity. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education . & Neufeld. H. D. J. Kamii. 29. 188-197. (1996) The role of a computer manipulative in fostering specific psychological/mathematical processes. pp. & Wahlstrom. (1986) Place value: an explanation of its difficulty and educational implications for the primary grades. (1995) Reassessment of developmental constraints on children’s science instruction. New York: Teachers College Press. 199-215).‘CONCRETE’ MANIPULATIVES. (1997) Preparing teachers to teach mathematics to students with learning disabilities. in G. Raph (Ed. New York: Basic Books. & Cawley. H. Raphael. 173-190. J. Metz.) Children’s Mathematics (pp. (1973) Pedagogical principles derived from Piaget’s theory: relevance for educational practice. in E. (1990) ‘It’s tough when you have to make the triangles angles’: insights from a computer-based geometry environment. J. L. Klein. (1990) Computer-based assessment of higher order understandings and processes in elementary mathematics. 68-72. 75-86. New York: Teachers College Press. 20. R. (1976) Concrete instruction in elementary school mathematics: pictorial vs. Kamii. K. 59 . J. in M. Scott. Washington: American Association for the Advancement of Science. Journal of Research in Childhood Education. Kulm (Ed. E. 99-127. Olson. pp. & Vukelic.

(1991) Abstract mediations on the concrete and concrete implications for mathematics education. N. pp. M. 60 . G. Arithmetic Teacher. New York: Springer-Verlag. conventions. Thompson. U. and constraints: contributions to effective use of concrete materials in elementary mathematics. 32. Mexico City: International Group for the Psychology of Mathematics Education. (1988) Construction of Arithmetical Meanings and Strategies. P. P. (1990) Salient Aspects of Experience with Concrete Manipulatives. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education. Harel & S. (1986) Manipulative materials and achievement. CLEMENTS Steffe. pp. A. 193-199). L. P.) Constructionism (pp. W. 23. & Cobb. Suydam. Wilensky. Norwood: Ablex. W. & Thompson. Papert (Ed. 10. 123-147.DOUGLAS H. Thompson. (1992) Notations. 33(6). P. in I.

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