Teaching aids are materials that the classroom teacher uses to help students understand the concepts she introduces during her lesson. These teaching aids can take numerous forms, from the beans students might count while learning simple math in kindergarten to the photos of famous people and places teachers might display during a history lesson.


Manipulatives are tools used to make abstract concepts more real. These teaching aids help children understand mathematics by looking at it from different views, according to Marilyn Burns, founder of Math Solutions. Manipulatives may include Color tiles, pattern blocks, interlocking cubes and a variety of measuring tools, all of which the students can easily handle. One of the Common Core Standards of Mathematical Practice asks teachers to model with mathematics. Classroom teachers use manipulatives to achieve that goal. Burns recommends using manipulatives in all math classes from kindergarten to high school.

Electronics and Media

Teachers use interactive whiteboards, tablets and computers to stimulate their students and hold their attention with visuals . Taking students on a virtual tour of an Egyptian pyramid will make that fabled landmark come alive in a way no book can. Speaking via online video with volcanologists while they conduct research on an island volcano in the Pacific Northwest will make the entire class part of the adventure. An interactive whiteboard connects the teacher's computer to a projector, which he can use to show a lesson on a touch screen to the class. The interactive lesson allows students to manipulate objects on the screen. They become participants in active learning, rather than spectators in a passive process.

Graphic Organizers

Graphic organizers -- a visual graphic that helps organize students' thinking -- can be used in any subject matter. Students use them to organize their learning by constructing Venn diagrams, t-charts, story maps, flow charts and timelines. Once students organize their ideas, they can spot trends and patterns in the concepts.


Realia (objects from real life used in classroom instruction) and primary sources can assist with vocabulary development and background knowledge, according to "Visual Scaffolding." For example, students studying types of rocks can sort real rocks according to weight, color or texture.

Primary Sources

Primary sources are the original documents from a historical event. These pieces of living history gives students an opportunity to think critically about an event from the past by analyzing the document or picture.