The seven year old playing with Mighty Mind-- a recent addition to our manipulative collection. We got ours at Rainbow Resource. They also have Super Mind for older kids.
Even baby gets into playing with the manipulatives! Here she is enjoying playing with the linking cubes. She doesn't know it but she is learning counting, patterns/sequencing, colors and matching, and coordination-- all while playing.
As a homeschooler (or even just as a parent), one of the best investments you can make is with manipulatives. I have been able to pick up manipulatives for a fraction of the cost of new by shopping used sales. One time a friend of mine was quitting homeschooling and invited me over to go through her things to purchase them before she consigned them at a local shop. I was able to stock up on a variety of things my children still play with to this day. I felt like I had hit the jackpot that day!
This year as you are finalizing your curriculum purchases, considering investing in some manipulatives. Then schedule (this is important lest they are forgotten) a time for your kids to pull them out at least once a week. There are lots of coordinating books you can buy if having a guide makes you feel better, but I find that my kids enjoy it most when I just turn them loose! Our hands-down consistent favorite is the pattern blocks. We have several versions of these in the house and my kids really enjoy the cards you can fit them on like a puzzle. Tangrams also fall into this category. We have some magnetic pattern blocks with a coordinating book I picked up years ago at a Scholastic warehouse sale that are falling apart from use. My five year old is especially good at these and blows me away with his ability to just "see" where everything goes. He didn't get that from his mama!
We have two large Rubbermaid boxes we keep the manipulatives in. One box is for preschool manipulatives and one is for math manipulatives. I will just announce that it is time to get the preschool box or the math box out. Sometimes I am met with groans, but every time they warm up quickly once they get engrossed and forget about the electronic stuff they normally gravitate towards. Even if you just purchase one manipulative a year, you can stock up fairly quickly-- especially with used curriculum sales in the spring. This year I bought one of those teddy bear balances with the bears for just a few dollars.
And if you live in the Charlotte area, check out Growing Scholars. They have a great selection of both preschool and math manipulatives!
I have never regretted buying manipulatives, but I have often regretted buying curriculum!