What Are Manipulative Toys (Inc. Examples)

If you work in the care profession or are fascinated by childhood development because you’re a parent, it’s vital to understand how children learn.

Unlike animals, people aren’t born with pre-set skills. All development happens through a process of learning, and we can help children by understanding what they need to facilitate such growth.

In the early years, children learn through play. In early education settings, you’ll find a range of different toys designed to help children develop necessary skills they will carry into adulthood.

An example of such resources is manipulative toys, which are an important part of the curriculum for children. What are they specifically? How do they help ? What are some examples?

What are they?

The clues in the name. A manipulative toy is any toy that needs manipulation by tiny hands. Children use their hands to balance bricks, solve simple puzzles and construct small structures. Anything that requires handling and moving can be considered a manipulative toy.

How do they help?

Toys that promote reaching, grasping, and squeezing helps children develop their fine motor skills, which will help them in everyday life.

Manipulative play also helps children be creative, which is crucial to childhood learning. Children can use their imagination alongside developing problem-solving skills. This way, the child has fun during their early learning journey.

Arts and crafts have a twofold benefit in the world of childhood development; children are able to use their imagination to fuel their work at the same time as fine-tuning physical skills needed in all aspects of life.


Reach, Grasp, Release – Mini Tudou Blocks Soft Building Blocks

Mini Tudou Blocks soft building blocks

Babies and toddlers learn how to handle objects through the reach, grasp, release method.

Providing children with pans or kitchen utensils will enable them to learn to pick up objects and carry them a short distance.

Stacking cups are also great for little ones, they learn how to balance and they can then enjoy knocking them down again.

The mini Tudou blocks are ideal for babies as they have no sharp edges and are easy to stack, providing hours of fun for tiny hands.

Mini Tudou Baby Blocks Soft Building Blocks Baby Toys Teethers Toy Educational Squeeze Play with Numbers Animals Shapes Textures 6 Months and Up 12PCS
  • 【Relief Design】Baby blocks set included 12 pieces blocks,Each blocks has an embossed animal,shape,fruit,Arabic numerals and geometrical patterns on the sides.And Children can develop their sense of touch and vision by touching and observing these embossed patterns.This amazing blocks can help baby better grow up in their early childhood development.
  • 【Stacking Toy】These baby building blocks are soft,durable and easy to be picked up and stacked together by baby’s hand.It also can be squeezed and will making a squeak sound.
  • 【Teethers】It is soft,chewable and perfectly for the baby who are aged 6 months and just get their first teeth.
  • 【Early Learning Play】This blocks for babies provides various fun for kids.Also teaching kids letter, counting,balancing,building and other motor skills.The carved number is a good way for kids to learn Arabic numerals,addition and subtraction.It also can be use as match game.
  • 【Safe Material】Baby blocks are soft,BPA Free,safe,non-toxic and made by food grade silicone.

Finger Isolation – Brain Flakes 50 Piece Interlocking Plastic Set

Brain flakes 50 piece interlocking plastic set

Finger isolation is important for children to master to enable them to use their fingers for intricate processes and delicate movements. Small babies tend to use their fingers and hands at the same time, but as they grow they need to master how to move fingers independently of each other.

The Brain Flakes set has interconnection plastic discs ideal for children from 3. The discs are simple to click together and come in a range of colors. With assistance, children can make no end of objects such as cars or trees.

It also comes with suggestions for small projects parents and children can work on together.

VIAHART BRAIN FLAKES 500 Piece Set, Ages 3+, Interlocking Plastic Disc Toy for Creative Building, Educational STEM learning, Construction Block Play for Kids, Teens, Adults, Boys, and Girls
  • The Signature Yellow Cap Storage Jar - Contains 500+ pcs in 12 colors; Includes an idea booklet with instructions to build a BRAIN FLAKES flower, rainbow ball, and tree; Additional building instructions and resources online providing endless creativity ideas for boys and girls
  • For Ages 3 to 99 - BRAIN FLAKES discs click together easily for children ages 5+; Aids in the development of fine motor skills and color learning for children 3+; A great gift for the entire family to enjoy
  • Why BRAIN FLAKES - A great STEM toy for developing spatial intelligence and thinking; Construct large structures with few pieces; Discs are flexible for creative open-ended building; Great screen-free and quiet-time activity
  • Non-Toxic and Tested for Safety - Child safe; BPA, lead, heavy metal, and phthalate free; Compliant with ASTM US CPSIA safety regulations
  • Engineers Start Here - A great solo or collaborative group activity for school classrooms, makerspaces, montessori, daycares, libraries, or home; Countless design possibilities and therapeutic building play

Bilateral Skills – Wood City Toddler Fine Motor Skills, Be Hove Matching Game, Wooden Color Sorting Toy

Wood city Toddler fine motor skills, be hove matching game, wooden color sorting toy

Bilateral skills are the development of using two hands to work together in tasks. This is where a child will discover which hand is dominant and which hand is the helper. Toys that require two hands are great to support this.

The wooden sorter game includes a small plastic tweezer that children use to place wooden bees into a round hole. This toy helps improve hand eye coordination as well as learning how to distinguish colors.

In addition, children learn simple math through counting. It’s a fun little game and a must-have in the manipulative toy collection.

WOOD CITY Toddler Fine Motor Skills Toys, Bee to Hive Matching Game, Wooden Color Sorting Toy for Toddler 2 3 Years Old, Montessori Preschool Learning Toys Gift for Children
  • 🍯 PRESCHOOL LEARNING TOY: This bee to hive matching toy includes a wooden hive board, 7 bees, a tweezer and one storage box. Cute little bees and rich colors are attractive to toddlers, easily arise their interest and curiosity.
  • 🍯 HAND-EYE COORDINATION: Each bee corresponds to a hive, children could easily grab the bees’ wings with tweezers to ensure the same color bees turn back to the same hives. Well-rounded developmental practice improves children's hands-on ability and exercise fine motor skills.
  • 🍯 COLOR SORTING AND COUNTING: Observe the distinguish of colors and learn some fundamental counting from the Montessori toys, to prepare for further teaching for color recognition and basic mathematics concepts to toddlers.
  • 🍯 SAFE AND ECO-FRIENDLY MADE: Non-toxic, completely safe & eco-friendly wood do help for your child to study while playing or enjoy the game time with your kids. Perfect wooden toys gift for little guys and girls, fit multiple occasions.
  • 🍯 SUITABLE AGE: It's never too early to start learning, might be better for preschool children. But we recommend children under the age of 3 play with guardians to prevent accidental risks.

Pincer Grasp – Water Beads Pack/Mixed Jelly Beads Water Gel Balls

Water beads pack/mixed jelly beads water gel balls

It’s important for children to learn the pincer grasp before school age. This intricate movement is what enables people to hold a pencil, thread needles, and pick up small objects from surfaces.

The water beads consist of 3000 small beads and are ideal for older children to further develop the pincer grip and are also fun and engaging.

There is the option to make home decorations, identifying colors and counting.

They can also be used as a stress ball or worn as jewelry.

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Construction – Picasso Tiles 3d Building Blocks

Picasso tiles 3d building blocks

Construction toys are a valuable learning aid for small children and help build several skills at once. Mastering the arts of putting pieces together to make something helps children develop engineering skills, cognitive flexibility, creativity and spatial awareness.

They will also enjoy the satisfaction of creating something that replicates real life, such a car or building.

Picasso’s tiles are useful learning aids as they are robust and easy to put together, but complex enough to be challenging to small children. Kids are able to learn about shapes and how they fit together, as well as colors and design.

Once children master the smaller projects they can create more complex structures which will give them confidence.

PicassoTiles 120pcs Hedgehog Interlocking Building Blocks Tiles Construction Toy Set Learning Playset STEAM Development Preschool Kindergarten Toy for Kids Age3+ PTB120
  • FRUSTRATION-FREE BUILDING - PicassoTiles Hedgehog shape blocks offer easy connectivity and simple to disconnect to maximize fun and build more creative designs. PTB120 enables children to improve hand-eye coordination, gain a strong sense of color, counting, sorting, attention, promotes the child brain development, and focus by using their hands to foster Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math skills
  • EDUCATIONAL TOY - Never too early to start developing kids' creativity. Children can acquire strong sense of color, structures, geometrical shapes including 3D forms, numbers counts, & architectural design at an early age. No limitations, scalable to build as big as desired by adding more pieces to create the masterpiece. The 120pcs Hedgehog shape building block can build more than 20 creative designs. Hedgehog shape block construction toys have different add-on pieces to offer open-ended
  • LEARNING IS FUN - Encourage creativity for STEM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) education which is the key factor to success in today's ever-changing environment. Fun and entertaining; perfect educational present for school age children that will never go out of style. Hedgehog shape building blocks are designed fosters hand-eye coordination and problem-solving skills of all ages including preschool, group activity, classroom teamwork, and kindergarten
  • FUN FOR EVERYBODY - PicassoTiles Hedgehog shape blocks encourage children (3+ and up) and/or families to work together as a team to design the masterpiece structures and build the creations. Entertaining for single or multiple parties and feel the sense of achievement of building together. A great way to spend quality time with the loved ones for family time bonding by playing. Developing kids creativity and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) skills
  • HIGH-QUALITY & NON-TOXIC - Each piece of Hedgehog shape blocks is manufactured by high-quality, toxic-free, and lead safe material with the highest standards to ensure the safety of the children. PTB120 is constructed from the highest quality materials to ensure it's strong and sturdy. Bringing you and your family, fun, and excitement for years to come

Ball Games – Matty’s Toy Stop 1- Pin Multicolor Deluxe Bowling Set

Matty’s toy stop 1- pin multicolor deluxe bowling set

As children get older, they can further their learning by engaging in activities that help them actively build on their current skill set.

Object control skills can be challenging, so simple ball games such as catch or low-key football are ideal for them to practice coordination.

Large beach balls or soft balls can be used and parents or carers can assist them to facilitate practice.

A simple bowling set up is another activity that is ideal for children to learn object control. It’s easy to organize with just a few plastic skittles and a large ball. You can even do it in the house if you have the room.

The Matty’s toy set is a favorite with kids and parents alike, with bright colors and durable material. They are tall enough so small children won’t find it too hard and come with 12 pins; great for a little family game of bowling.

There is no doubt that raising a child or working with children is rewarding. Watching tiny people learn about the world around them and how they fit into it is a fascinating endeavor.

Awareness of how manipulative toys help assist their learning will help you provide what they need moving forward and into adulthood.

Matty's Toy Stop 10 Pin Multi-Color Deluxe Plastic Bowling Set for Kids with Storage Rack - 12 Pieces Total (10 Pins & 2 Bowling Balls)
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Matty's Toy Stop 10 Pin Multi-Color Deluxe Plastic Bowling Set for Kids with Storage Rack - 12 Pieces Total (10 Pins & 2 Bowling Balls)
  • Deluxe bowling set is made of high quality plastic & comes with an easy store plastic holder.
  • Awesome heavy duty bowling set for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Everything Needed for a 'Perfect' Game! - 12 pieces total - Bowling pins measure 9.5" tall
  • Makes a great gift & is perfect for schools, parties, home, the park, special needs and so much more!
  • For Ages 3 and up - Fun for the whole family! - *Item ships unassembled in easy to open packaging*