Manipulatives help students develop conceptual understanding of mathematical ideas by representing the ideas in multiple ways. NCTM states:
"Using mathematics manipulatives and models offer many benefits. Just as a picture can be worth a thousand words, manipulatives can provide visual representations of ideas, helping students to know and to understand mathematics. Manipulatives enhance the abilities of students at all levels to reason and communicate. Working with manipulatives deepens understanding of concepts and relationships, makes skills practice meaningful, and leads to retention and application of information in new problem-solving situations. In turn, the valuable time spent on manipulative- and model -based lessons has the sustained, long-term effect of building student confidence and deepening mathematics understanding.