Top 7 manipulatives to teach shapes to early learners

Last Updated on July 14, 2022 by Editorial Team

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The shape is one of the aspects that intrigue kids a lot. Shapes are an important part of building math reasoning in a child. Judging shapes, sizes, heights and distance find its best use while playing games, during crossing the roads, and while learning trigonometry at higher levels of study. As a teacher, you may find it difficult to familiarize kids with the concept of shapes. Teaching manipulatives help children come to terms with shapes the fun way. 

Manipulatives help teach the concept of shapes to children in a participative manner. As a teacher or parent, allow them to play with blocks, solids, etc., engage them in craft activities, or simply arrange or sort, and eventually, help them overcome their hesitation about shapes and related concepts.

Which shape manipulatives should be on your checklist? This is quite a valid question given the plethora of options available around. So, to ease your searching woes, we bring you here the most creative manipulatives for teaching shapes to early learners.

Top 7 shape manipulatives for early learners

1. Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards

Melissa & Doug Pattern Blocks and Boards

Unleash the creativity in children with Melissa and Doug Blocks and Boards! This shape manipulative can provide hands-on learning of shapes such as rectangle, hexagon, square as well as trapezium. Along with the comfort with the shapes, this manipulative works on improving spatial awareness, and enhances eye and hand coordination. Color recognition ability development comes as a bonus with this teaching manipulative.

Start the activity by letting children sort the blocks by colors, and then involve them deeper by giving them patterns to fill with the blocks. You can also ask them to be creative in their choices of colors in making the patterns. Thus, children will enjoy learning shapes. With regular practice, they will be able to retain the concept better. Moving higher up on the learning ladder, you can time this activity and give it as a challenge to make patterns in a given time. This manipulative is an amazing mind-stimulant and offers a creative way of familiarizing children with shapes and patterns.

2. Coogam Wooden Blocks Puzzle Brain Teasers Toy Tangram

Coogam Wooden Blocks Puzzle Brain Teasers Toy Tangram

Tease children’s brains with this Toy Tangram and gift them the intelligence of shapes, spatial awareness and knowledge of shape types. This game challenges the mind and improves its ability to grasp the concept of shapes. Kids love the challenging part, though the first time will need lot of boosting the morale. Once achieved, the kids tend to come back to it and do it faster than before.

This shape manipulative helps three ways; first, there is retention of concept in the mind, means concept recall increases considerably. Second, the familiarity with signs is enhanced. Third, the children learn to recognize the shapes as well as colors. Fitting this jigsaw puzzle into a box opens the world of awareness for children. Their minds get the suitable challenge to overcome and feel great about it on achievement. It is an engaging activity you can perform at class as well as at home.

3. Educational Insights Shapes Beanbags

Educational Insights Shapes Beanbags

Shape bean bags are handy manipulatives for learning shapes with deeper involvement. The bean bags designed in the shapes of square, rectangle, hexagon, or circle with names put on them makes the identification much easier for early learners. Apart from recognizing the numbers, the children can be made to draw the shapes by outlining the bean bags. Start familiarizing part by allowing them to toss or catch these. This activity has a deeper meaning as it allows students to improve the judgment of distance and that of the size or shape of the article.

Further, give a small shape talk where you can tell them about the shape and teach them associating it with shape type. On attaining a higher level of shape intelligence, the children can be asked to draw the outlines as suggested above.  Spelling learning, shape identification and pencil holding motor skills are some of the benefits children can derive from this shape manipulative.

4. Dough Tools Kit

Dough Tools Kit

Give children tools, literally speaking, to build and know the shapes. Children can use a rolling pin, dough cutter, and molds to create a variety of shapes. This shape manipulative can take the learning activity to higher levels of engagement and offers a playful way of grasping the figures that children normally look around.

Inculcate the initial as well as advanced motor skill, hand-eye coordination, spatial intelligence, and shape association skills in child and prepare him to be a confident learner. An interesting way to stimulate the brains of children towards spatial awareness, and build logical thinking

Give an easy introduction to shapes of animals, alphabets, and numbers with this interesting shape manipulative that makes an amazing pastime activity at home or class.

5. VTech Sort and Discover Drum

VTech Sort and Discover Drum

Shape cognition is always there in a child. It is the association and application part that they learn from teachers using shape manipulatives. You will find children somewhat familiar with this manipulative as they play with it since infanthood. At home, with practice and curiosity-laden approach, they try to fix the shapes in corresponding slots given in the drum. The manipulative offers an easy introduction to colors. Teachers tell them about canonical shapes like square, triangle, and circle. They can further ask them to match these shapes with items in their surroundings.

Colorful blocks and pre-fed music, and phrases in this manipulative do the job of attracting the child towards the activity. They can try to recollect the name of the shape each time they perform. With practice, they speed up the process of filling the slots and show their proficiency level by naming and fitting the shape in slot the fastest possible. Spatial visualization, association, naming, and recollection of shapes’ names along with the introduction to numbers and colors are some of the learnings this shape manipulative provides to early learners.

6. Geoboard

 Geoboard playing shapes

Geoboards come with geobands and pattern cards to guide the kids on how to use this shape manipulative. Start with canonical figures like squares and triangles. With the help of arranging the geobands on the board’s pegs, the kids learn about making shapes. Even before this, the teachers can use this manipulative for small discussion on associating shapes with names.

Moving to higher learning, kids can experiment with as many shapes as they want. This manipulative can prove its utility in learning asymmetric figures that are also known as embedded figures like trapezium, etc. Enrich the children’s knowledge of shapes with non-canonical figures, such as isosceles triangle at higher grades of learning. This manipulative is ideal for learning about shapes. It enhances spatial awareness, improves eye-hand skills, and stimulates the mind to absorb, retain, and recall the shape memory built in the learning process.

7. Edx Education Mini Geometric Solids

Edx Education Mini Geometric Solids

Introduce the children to geometrical shapes using this shape manipulative in an engaging manner. Color-coded blocks offer an ideal solution for differentiating shapes from one another when they do not know the names. Gradually, you can tell the name of the 3D solid shape they are carrying. Ask them to associate with the same shapes of other colors, or give them a set of things to pick embedded figures, this shape manipulative offers a smarter way of teaching about shape, size, color than those provided by 2D presentations or drawings in books.

It provides a collaborative tool, which can be useful in classroom teaching for building shape intelligence in children. The activity time using these solids can be made more interesting by encouraging children to sort, join, or arrange blocks to create more unique shapes.

Summing up,

It is very important for children to be familiar with shapes. This simple concept goes a long way and allows building the learning ground for developing geometry skills. Shapes identification is needed for learning almost everything that kids learn, such as alphabets, numbers, and also about animals, fruits, and other things of daily use. So, make the path of learning easier with the shape manipulatives and give a solid start to learning.

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