How To Use Homeschool Virtual Math Manipulatives: Geoboards

Jul 02, 2022

How To Use Homeschool Virtual Math Manipulatives: Geoboards

Hey, when you were in grade school did any of your teachers pull out those fun geoboards during math class? If you're not even sure what geoboards are, no worries. I've got you covered on this one.

Check out this brand new video I created recently showing your homeschool a comparison between the top TWO FREE virtual geoboards.

Casually invite your kids to explore and play with them in your homeschool math. I'll share why shortly. Oh! And messing around with geoboards is great for all ages of kids...even adults too! Wink, wink!

What are geoboards and what are they used for?

First of all, they were invented and popularized by one of the most prominent mathematicians of the 20th century, Egyptian mathematician Caleb Gattegno (1911-1988).

The geoboard and its inventor, Caleb Gattegno.

A geoboard is a square, rectangular, or circular math manipulative with nails or pegs half driven in. Rubber bands (either one color or multiple colors) are affixed and stretched across the pegs or nails thus allowing the student to explore basic plane geometry concepts such as circumference, diameter, radius, perimeter, and polygon characteristics such as triangles and squares.

Here's a short, sad geoboard math story.

When I was a foster kid during the 70's and 80's, I recall my 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Coogan, hauling out geoboards for our class to play with and utilize during math class. I would play with creating fun designs using just plain old rubber bands.

This geoboard is similar to the ones we used in grade school.

But, oh woe, there was never enough time in my 6th grade math class to truly deep dive into my geoboard designs since class was typically a 45 minute period. We always had to cover other less fun work too. No sooner would I get into creating an unfinished geoboard design and we'd get the dreaded 5 minute warning from Mrs. Coogan that went something like this:

"Okay class! Here's your 5 minute warning. Go ahead now and take apart your geoboards so that they can be collected."

The whole class would groan. But there was no choice in the matter.

However, you as a homeschooler do have the choice to allow your kids to play with these geoboards freely and as long as they want. And what's so great is that you can even have them screenshot or save and download their designs as you can do in the case of the Math Learning Center geoboard! They can save their work for years to come. No more groans for not being able to keep their designs.

There are many free and paid virtual geoboards out there, but, Didax and Math Learning Center are two of the most popular online math manipulative tool providers each with their own FREE virtual tools suite.

Here's a simple design of polygons and lines I created using the Math Learning Center geoboard app.

Just, wow. Your kids can use FREE virtual math tools! How cool is that??

It's simply amazing how creators on the Internet pull out and improve some of the greatest surprises to humanity such as virtual geoboards. Recently, when I came across the beauty, wonder, and quite frankly, FUN of using virtual math manipulatives, I just fell in love and had to share my findings with you. So, I'm starting off with what I think will become a series about these marvelous free math manipulative tools.

Great Scott, am I excited to introduce to you to these super cool, super fun, FREE virtual geoboards. Your kids can spend hours experimenting, playing, while creating beautiful and meaningful "math art" designs and exploring various geometric concepts from shapes to circumference, diameter, and radius.

Click here and check out my latest video and watch your freely explore and create.

I suggest, like John Holt, the founder of unschooling would do: allow your kids to just free play with the tools before doing any formal instruction. Why? Kids are incredibly curious and creative explorers. They'll come up with their own creations, reasoning, and solutions that many times go way beyond any organized instruction.

Here's a more elaborate geoboard design that I created using the Didax geoboard app.

Let's face it. If you introduce the virtual geoboard using formal instruction first, it might crush the desire your kids have for using the tool in the first place.

Go with the natural flow that kids learn which is through free play and exploration. Once your kids have ample free exploration time, from hours to days, they'll be much more ready to receive formal or guided instructions using them.

Want more out of the box math thinking and nuggets to implement in your homeschool or unschool?


Talk soon!