algebraic manipulatives

I attended a workshop yesterday. The topic was algebraic manipulatives. I have spied and/or used most of these manipulatives in the past. But it was a nice refresher...plus the time away from the trenches really got me thinking. As the Common Core State Standards move algebraic concepts to younger students, it is going to be crucial that we provide concrete connections to these abstract concepts. And as we provide the concrete connections we still must transition the students to the algorithm as well. I'm curious if we're ready. Getting ready? Thinking about getting ready?

Here are some of the manipulatives we used and carried home...
(my personal favorite)
I have used AngLegs for triangle inequality, interior angle sum, converse of the Pythagorean Theorem, special angle relationships in parallel lines cut by a transversal, and to model the ambiguous case for the Law of Sines. These are always a huge hit with my students!

Algebra Tiles
(oldie but goodie)

I love using algebra tiles for factoring and completing the square. Now...I will use them for collecting like terms and solving equations. But I absolutely must determine a method for keeping up with these tiny pieces from student to student use. Any suggestions?!?

(not my fave)

I'm not sure I will ever use these. Actually, I gave my set to my teacher friend who attended the workshop with me! I struggled with the protractor piece...the oddly numbered circle piece that contaings the "golden circle." I just don't see the advantage to the GeoLegs over the safety compass and protractor tool that I use in geometry. However, we did construct an equilateral triangle, square, regular hexagon, and a regular octagon. Fun! We had a small debate about the standards that these constructions truly align with in CCSS...but let's not start that again. :)

So...do tell...what are your favorite manipulatives? Are you a fan of discovery activities or lab activities of sorts? What are you and/or your district/building doing to prepare for the transition to Common Core?

I hope your week was productive and your weekend proves to be relaxing...make it count!