7 Important Manipulatives For Preschoolers

Last Updated on October 6, 2022 by Editorial Team

Studying and learning the practical way plays a vital role in shaping preschoolers’ academic road for future prospects. But kids, especially pre-schoolers with learning disabilities might find it tough to learn and grasp certain concepts, especially those requiring reading and arithmetic skills. But credit must be given to the tools like Manipulatives, which help these struggling students learn, study, and enjoy various subjects in a fun way.

Manipulatives are tools that help your child learn important concepts in a practical way. These can be in the form of blocks, flashcards, cubes, etc. From reading to word building to even a scary subject like Maths, manipulatives help the pre-schoolers learn it all.

These physical objects help your child with even complex topics like fractions, time, counting money, and much more. However, just not with students with learning disabilities, these manipulatives are being used by teachers and parents for almost all the little learners to form a solid base of important fundamentals concepts of a subject.

Manipulative, pre-schoolers and learning disorder

Many Pre-schoolers struggle whenever new concepts have been introduced in a class and that is not uncommon. However, instruments like Manipulatives help these children at their early years of schooling to build a strong foundation and be prompt and quick when it comes to learning and absorb new concepts and topics.

It is true that early years of education, like pre-schooling, often act as the foundation and the base of any child. In many cases, Learning disorders can disrupt these early years for a child. But tools like manipulatives help children, their teachers, and parents in large and small ways. Using manipulatives is like adopting a new learning process for kids which is one of the most important steps to overcome the effects of a learning disorder in your academics.

What are manipulatives, and how do they help?

Children with learning disorders have a much shorter attention span than other students; therefore, it is probably best to find an alternative to the conventional way. In situations like such, Manipulatives play a key role, acting as learning tools that help grab pre-schoolers ‘ attention and keep them engaged.

Learning through these manipulatives helps the child learn and feel that he is in total control of the objects, and he is the one to build, move, turn or arrange them. Thus, this induces a sense of independence in the child, which helps them learn and help with a guided practice.

Manipulatives help pre-schoolers develop many educational skills and concepts, including mathematical concepts, word formation concepts, and much more. It’s surely is popular since many parents and teachers are now using this to help pre-schoolers, especially those with learning disorders, learn new concepts in a fun and engaging way. These tools also help in a great way to develop and improve reading skills in these pre-schoolers, which otherwise might seem quite tough.

With children who have short attention spans, teachers need to help them learn through engaging activities, which can grab their attention for longer durations, and Manipulative serves the purpose. Keeping this in mind, We’ve curated a list of 7 important manipulatives to teach early fundamental concepts to Pre-Schoolers.

Best manipulatives for pre-schoolers

From dice to flashcards to blocks, manipulatives are small objects that help little ones learn, and build educational concepts at a young age.

1.   Pattern blocks

From number sense to fractions to addition and subtraction, pattern blocks are great manipulatives that can be used to teach concepts that a child may struggle to begin with. These also help with the concepts of color and shapes, as children are given blocks of different shapes, sizes, and colors.

pattern blocks

These pattern blocks can be used in infinite ways to help pre-schoolers learn and grasp in a fun and healthy way. The best part about these pattern blocks is that they are widely available and are super inexpensive. That is why many teachers are now indulging in making students learn concepts using such manipulatives.

2.   Dice


Dice is again a great manipulative for the pre-schoolers. This one helps with counting, adding, and has ‘n’ number of uses when it comes to studies and education. These basic dice are easy to obtain and fun to use. With a varied variety, these dice are being used around the globe by teachers and parents to help students learn concepts of maths and logic.

3.   Play Doh

play doh

Play-Doh is a great way to help students gain knowledge while having fun. Things like play-doh grab the attention of all students and help them learn and engage with concepts in a fun way.

Teachers and parents can also include them in the break hours or the play hours and ask them to make letters, shapes, and other stuff. This will help pre-schoolers with alphabets, numbers, colors, shapes, and other fundamental topics.

4.   Cuisenaire Rods

Cuisenaire Rods

Cuisenaire rods teach some of the most important math concepts in a fun and practical way. These are used widely to understand shapes and sizes. These also help with basic fundamental knowledge of addition, subtraction, and much more.

Such tools are used extensively to help students learn in a pleasurable way. The way in which they can focus for a much longer time and retain the basic fundamental concept forever.

5.   Playing Cards

playing cards

Who doesn’t love some playing cards? Well, so do children. These cards work amazingly if you want your pre-schooler to build a great number sense. By playing cards, the kids would be forced to learn the numbers without you actually forcing them. These cards help students retain numbers, concepts, colors, and much more.

The fun part about them is that they are widely available and can be used for multiple things. In today’s times, there are certain cards being designed especially for pre-schoolers, which are much more fun and exciting for the little ones to play and learn and grasp fully.

Links are used vastly, but definitely not for education. But what if we tell you that now these links can also be used to help your pre-schooler develop concepts related to education and logic. Kids can learn about patterns and colors through these learning links.

They also induce concepts of addition and subtraction. You could just ask your pre-schooler to make a link of X numbers and then ask them constantly to add and subtract few links. This would help with counting, addition, subtraction, and even fractions.

The links can also help with logical concepts like estimation, wherein you can ask the kids to estimate the number of links there are in the chain.

7.   Mini Erasers

What if we tell you that a small thing like an eraser could help your child with their early ages of education. Yes, that’s true! You can also use erasers in multiple ways to help your child with many concepts related to school. These can be used as counters to learn various math concepts.

Good use of these will be in rote counting activities, also including addition, subtraction, and subitizing concepts. Further, these are great manipulatives for remembering shapes and basic geometry. Do check out our earlier posts on learning about counting and geometry using counters.


Indeed, conventional ways do not seem to work with preschoolers with learning disorders. But gone are the days when parents and teachers used to worry about teaching educational topics and more challenging concepts to the struggling kids. These students indeed need a little more attention and time to learn certain concepts, and manipulatives help wonderfully with that.

Nonetheless, these manipulatives are being used vastly by teachers and parents of many preschoolers to help them learn and engage themselves in knowledgeable topics whilst playing, making it a win-win situation for all.

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