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Tutorial for Math Manipulatives: How to Make Magnetic Pom Poms

I fell in love with using magnetic pom poms in school when my youngest was three. If you search anywhere online, then you are bound to find them being used in some manner as math manipulatives or just fun play tools for young children.

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As my youngest became older, a whopping seven years old, the pom poms became more like toys than teaching tools. Because I could not get the fact out of my mind that they were for school use only and he still wanted to use them (as toys), I found a way to incorporate them back into his schoolwork.

Math seemed like the likeliest subject for Canyon to use the pom poms again. He does not use the pom poms daily, but I let him pull them out when he works on his math sheets that require basic addition and subtraction.

He chooses two different colors of pom poms for the plus/minus and equal signs and another color for the addend/minuend/subtrahend and sum/difference.

Here he is completing another equation and writing his answer. The time he spends using the pom poms and completing the sheet may be more work than he needs to do, but Canyon finds it fun and it adds some variety (and more fun) to a math worksheet.

If you would like to use magnetic pom poms in your classroom, they are really easy to make.

I purchased magnets with adhesive backs and used hot glue to ensure the pom poms would stick to the magnets during multiple uses.

Once you apply the hot glue...

press the pom pom onto the magnet and let it cool and dry. The hot glue is just as it is called, hot, so be careful.

I used a metal tray or baking sheet as a work area. If the hot glue gets on the sheet, it will not damage the surface. Also, the magnets do not move, which helps as you apply the pom poms. Plus, any run-away glue is easy to clean off after it dries.

It doesn’t take long to have a sheet full of ready-to-use magnetic pom poms.

How do you use magnetic pom poms in your classroom?

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