Have you ever introduced a math game, only to be discouraged when students engage in imaginative play or build towers with the manipulatives instead of practice the skill by playing the game? As with most things that go wrong...we have to own it. We've learned that our students really need time to explore the manipulatives before we can expect them to use them as tools instead of toys. Therefore, we put them out a few weeks before they'll be used as tools, and students get the "play" out of their systems during exploration time. Joan discusses how they are stored and introduced in a way to promote independence.