Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Early Learning—Manipulatives Area

This week, we’ll talk about the Manipulatives Area.  Manipulatives, also known as Table Toys, are great because they can be very appealing to children and can teach a lot of different skills.  While this area can contain a huge variety of materials, it’s best to keep it well-stocked but not overwhelming.  It’s also best to rotate materials so that children do not become bored with them.  Some items to include in your Manipulatives Area are:
  • Building materials like bristle blocks and Legos
  • Geoboards
  • Pegboards and pegs
  • A variety of puzzles (variety in subject matter, size, material, and difficulty); don’t forget floor puzzles
  • A variety of counters and sorting containers
  • Games (lotto, bingo, etc. for numbers, color, shapes)
  • Gear boards
  • Pattern cards
  • Dressing frames
  • Sequencing activities
  • Tanagrams
  • Beads and laces

As you can see, there are a ton of things you can put in your Manipulatives Area.  If you see a child falling behind in one area of learning, there is probably something you can add to your Manipulatives Area to help that child.  For example, if a child is having difficulty with learning the sounds of letters, you could add an activity in which the child matches the letter with small items beginning with that sound. Oh, and one of the really cool things about manipulatives is that you can make a lot of them yourself!

Some of the skills and concepts that are learned in the Manipulatives Area include:
  • Fine motor skills
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Shapes and colors
  • Matching and classifying
  • Following directions
  • Visual discrimination
  • Sequencing
  • Identifying patterns
  • Problem solving
  • Concentration

Because this is an area that could promote teamwork in some activities, and the play could become a little louder, it’s best to locate it away from your quietest areas.  Ideally, your Manipulatives Area would have both a table and a rug where children could work.  The materials should be on low shelves, well organized and clearly labeled so that children can return the materials to the proper place.

Next week, we’ll talk about Sensory Play.

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