This is Mushroom using Cuisenaire rods and Hands-on-Equations pieces to work variables puzzles in Beast Academy. He was supremely happy as he did it. It made the puzzles easier, but once he had done them this way, doing them without the manipulatives was a breeze.
If anyone out there is interested in the Hands on Equations program, I highly recommend it. Both the boys enjoyed it and, as you can see, it occasionally comes out as a visual reminder of the principles they learned. As well, I highly recommend sticking Cuisenaire rods and base ten blocks in there to use, which allows for bigger numbers and more complexity as well as a more clear visual representation of the numbers.