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Making Math Concrete: Getting Started with TouchPoints

Touching manipulatives is how we learn; We improve when we do something physical.

By starting with concrete use of patented manipulatives, TouchMath makes it easier for students to move into written representational content and strongly understand abstract mathematical concepts.

TouchMath uses each number as a manipulative, making the learning experience real for students. Each numeral has the same number of TouchPoints to help students make physical connections with the representational figures.

Each numeral from 1 through 9 has TouchPoints corresponding to the digit’s value. Numerals 1 through 5 have single TouchPoints. Numerals 6 through 9 have double TouchPoints (two concentric circles), which means you touch and count each point twice. Numerals 7 and 9 have both double and single TouchPoints. Zero has no TouchPoints, so you never touch or count zero.

Students excel when they can see the numerals, touch the TouchPoints, say the numbers, and hear the problem. Students should touch and say the numbers in sequence as they learn the Touching Counting Patterns and the TouchPoints. First graders need about a week to master the TouchPoints and an average third grader can usually pick it up in one lesson. Mastering these foundational patterns will set students up for success with TouchMath!

Student Activity

Items Needed:

  • Printer or nine sheets of paper
  • Crayons, markers or color pencils (purple, dark red, green, yellow, blue, orange, pink, teal, light red)
  • Individual TouchNumeral pages

Parents/Caregivers: Print out the pages for each TouchNumeral (here). If you don’t have access to a printer, draw each numeral on individual pages (nine total) and draw the TouchPoints as indicated on each numeral.


Ask students to color in the numerals – but not the TouchPoints. Start by coloring zero blue.

  1. Purple
  2. Dark Red
  3. Green
  4. Yellow
  5. Blue
  6. Orange
  7. Pink
  8. Teal
  9. Light Red

Introduce the Touching/Counting Pattern for each numeral. As students touch and count each numeral, ask them to fill in the corresponding color for the TouchPoints on each numeral. Remember, zero has no TouchPoints!

The one is touched at the top while counting: “One.” Color the TouchPoint orange.

The two is touched at the beginning and the end of the numeral while counting: “One, two.” Color both TouchPoints green.

The three is touched at the beginning, middle and end of the numeral while counting: “One, two, three.” Color all three TouchPoints yellow.

The four is touched and counted from top to bottom on the downstrokes while counting: “One, two, three, four.” Color all four TouchPoints red.

The five is touched and counted starting at the top right, moving left, down, right and down around to the left, while counting: “One, two, three, four, five.” To help students remember the fourth TouchPoint, it may be referred to as the “belly button” of the numeral. Color all five TouchPoints pink.

The six begins the use of double TouchPoints (two concentric circles), which are touched and counted twice. The six is touched and counted from top to bottom: “One-two, three-four, five-six.” Color all three TouchPoints purple.

The seven is touched and counted from top to bottom, counting the double TouchPoints along the right side of the numeral first: “One-two, three-four, five-six,” followed by the single TouchPoint on the top left side of the numeral: “Seven.” The single TouchPoint can be thought of like the nose. Color the four TouchPoints teal.

The eight is touched counted from left to right: “One-two, three-four, five-six, seven-eight.” Color the four TouchPoints orange. 

The nine is touched and counted from top to bottom, counting the double TouchPoints first: “One-two, three-four, five-six, seven-eight,” followed by the single TouchPoint on the left: “Nine.” Color the five TouchPoints yellow.

To see the TouchPoints in action and learn how to use TouchMath for specific concepts including counting, addition, subtraction, place value, multiplication, division, time, money, fractions, story problems, shapes, sizes, and pre-algebra, visit our YouTube channel