When choosing a math curriculum, I found many systems that included a package of manipulatives, colored blocks and such which would help kids gain a concrete understanding of tens and ones as they learn to use numbers effectively. In the end, I chose to go with a program that had only printable worksheets, presenting groups of tens visually, but not physically.
Turns out, my daughter could really use something to move around with her fingers. I dug through the dry goods and found some beans. I gave her a pile of small black-eyed peas to add and subtract with and she was so happy. Then, a day later, I replaced half of the black-eyed peas with big red kidney beans. On a whim, I told her that the kidney beans were "super beans" because they were worth as much as ten little beans.
Oh, the glee!
She is really very easy to entertain, fortunately, and hasn't developed any of the jaded qualities so many of her public school friends have. She thought the Super Beans were the best thing since pink glitter.
The terminology is now firmly established. When she is struggling with a problem, I can ask simply, "How could you get from here to the next Super Bean? Now, what is left over?"
She gets it. She loves it. She thinks math is a blast.
Because of a pile of dry beans from the cupboard.
Do not, people, do not go out and purchase math manipulatives.