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Digital Math Manipulatives with Mathigon

Digital Math Manipulatives are free and easy. Check out how to provide students with the digital tools they need to explore mathematical concepts.
Digital Math Manipulatives
Digital Math Manipulatives with Mathigon

Who doesn’t love manipulatives for math?! To quote my favorite math instructor, Jo Boaler, “Math is creative and visual.” In an age of Chromebooks, how do we provide students with high quality digital math manipulatives?


One source of digital math manipulatives is Polypad by Mathigon. Right when students log into Mathigon Polypad they will have a sidebar with a variety of options of tools.

Single Click

Students will single click on the tools in the sidebar to add them to the canvas. Notice there are 3 toolbars to help students to manipulate the object, add additional tools to the canvas, or to manipulate the canvas.

Single click on the object in the sidebar, in this case a pentagon tiling. Under the object is a toolbar to manipulate the object. Under that is the option to add additional tools. To the right is a canvas toolbar.

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Drawing Tools

While I am adamant that using a pen is NOT the holy grail of math teaching, it is nice to have. Mathigon has a pen tool in the toolbar at the bottom of the screen to allow students to draw alongside their manipulatives.

Create a Template for Students

Polypad is a great resources for student toolboxes. When they are doing math activities they can choose which manipulatives would work best for this. This helps to satisfy the mathematical practice that students should know which tools to choose when tackling a math problem. However, you very likely want to create a template for students to explore a particular concept.

Sign In

It is really important that you SIGN IN!

SIGN IN FIRST so you do not lose your progress.

File Tab

Click on the FILE tab.

Notice where it says “Untitled Polypad.” Click there to set a name for your template. Click the Save button. Optionally create a folder to save your templates in.

Share Template

After saving, you will have the option to share the file and to restrict access to the file. Click the share icon (3 dots with 2 lines) for sharing options.

Sharing Options

Share options include Google Classroom, or just copying the link to the file.

Students Make a Copy

Students will need to LOG IN to save their work. Click on the File tab to make a copy of the manipulative. Students will submit the link to their copy of the polypad.

More from Tim Brzezinski

Tim Brzezinski is the premier expert in digital math tools. Check out his playlist on using the digital math manipulatives for Polypad.

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