We borrowed this year's Math-U-See curriculum from my cousin, Angi, but she uses the math manipulatives all the time, so she only loaned us the textbooks.
The real manipulatives look like this:
No problem. I traced around one of Angi's cubes and took it home to Jeff. He found some scrap fir, ripped it on a table saw, then cut it to length on a chop saw.
We sanded the snot out of it for days, months, millenia. Okay, it only took half a day. Seemed like forever.
I colored each and every one of the blocks, on every side, with washable marker, which I'm told is impossible to get out of unfinished wood.
Then I drew lines on each one,
to show how many units it was.
We are now the proud owners of 170 homemade math manipulatives nestled inside the coolest red basket I've ever seen in all my born days.
Crafted with love for two little boys who love them right back.