Top 5 Manipulatives for Infant and Toddlers

Manipulatives are designed to build strength in infants and toddlers, whether that be hand eye coordination, memory, leg or core strength. Here are our 5 most popular manipulatives for infants and toddlers:

Oballs

The fun and flexible Oball is incredibly easy to grasp and safe to throw. The bright colours and smooth feel are captivating for little hands, while the virtually indestructible design withstands tougher toddler play. Perfect for all ages, Oball is sure to be an instant favourite! The Oball with Rattles is the same classic Oball that everyone loves with four clear rattles filled with colourful beads. Both are available in assorted colours.

Toddler Tough Vehicles

Take to the air, tracks or road with these tough vehicles, including a race car, train, dump truck, airplane, fire truck and police car. This Toddler Tough Vehicles set features no pinch axles and wheels. The cute painted on faces make them even more appealing for little hands. 3″L x 2″W x 2-1/4″H. Ages 12 months+.

Egg Shakers

A classic, these brightly coloured egg shakers are enjoyable for children and adults alike. Sturdy and durable, these larger Egg Shakers (2-1/2″ tall) are suitable for infants and toddlers. They are available individually or in a set of 5. Let’s get music making!

Stack-Up Cups and Cubes

Unbreakable square cubes and round cups can be stacked or nested. An essential for exploring size relationships, Stack-Up Cups and Cubes are fun to stack, smash, build and bash. Their ability to build a large tower and alternatively nest together amazes infants and toddlers alike.  Full stack is 14″H. 18 piece set.

Animal Links

This set of super light interlocking Animal Links can be easily linked together to create a variety of fun chains or exciting three dimensional structures.18 large easy to manipulate pieces made in 3 animal shapes in 6 bright colours, ages 12M+. Stack the shapes, sort by colour and style, make a pattern. Washable and safe, they have been specifically designed to meet the developmental needs of smaller kids, and they don’t make any noise when they fall!

Check out the rest of our wonderful collection of Infant and Toddler manipulatives here.

Healthy Living

With the New Year fast approaching our focus tends to shift from the indulgent to discipline. It seems hard to imagine right now as baking and feasting is in full effect in the holiday season. The new year, resolutions and a promise to eat and exercise better hits many of us. Our emotional wellness can also become a focus as some of us struggle with the long nights and shorter days. Taking advantage of this in the classroom seems appropriate as children may see their parents making an effort to live healthier.

Eating

Learning about types of foods, food groups and healthy eating provides children with the knowledge and understanding to begin making healthy choices.

The Deluxe Market Set includes one shopping basket and one bushel basket and 30 different types of freshly designed play food. Perfect for sorting and imaginative play, these foods are soft, rounded and easy for little ones to grasp.

All 4 groups are represented in this set of Food Groups. The 20 solid wood play food pieces are easy to sort and store in 4 handy wooden storage crates.

The pictures of vegetables in this Vegetables Puzzle are so lifelike they will encourage children to eat their fruits and vegetables every day!

This set of Growing Up Green Healthy Eating Fruit Puzzles can stimulate conversation about favourite fruits and features real photographs of essential food products. The warm climates pictured in the images are also a welcome sight during our winter months!

Exercising

January weather can force us indoors so some options for fun gym time are great to have on hand.

With an easy turning steering wheel, Go Wheelie encourages active and imaginative play while reinforcing gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination. It makes a fun clicking noise as children drive to their destination and is a popular choice in any centre.

Stations are easy to set up with these Action Exercise Cards. Tilt the cards from side to side to see the exercise moves play out like a video screen. Use these fun cards to teach and reinforce popular exercise moves such as burpees, crunches, sit-ups,  and push-ups.

Emotions

Encouraging children to identify and then control their emotions is an essential job of any educator.

This new set of Expressions Babies is so soft and appealing. The removable sleep sacks are easy for little fingers to manipulate and the facial expressions are easily recognizable.

This set consists of 24 wooden tiles with 12 different emotions. My Mood Memo encourages children to match emotions using memory skills.

For older children, the game of Tell Tale is a fun way to develop the art of storytelling. Players are guided through their own unique tale with cards illustrated with a variety of characters, settings, objects and emotions. With 4 ways to play, the creative storytelling options are endless.

All About Me Activity Cards in Action

I have used All About Me Family Counters for a few years. They are the go-to, grab and go activity as all three of my children now play with them, in different ways.

Here you can see how we have played with them in the past: Fun with Family Counters.

I did have a male ECE correct my stereotyping as I displayed them with the baby on the Mama’s hip and have successfully balanced the baby on the Papa’s hip also!

These counters are the perfect size for dramatic play/restaurant waiting/older sibling activity waiting, and of course for their original design: math concept teaching!

Here you can see the All About Me Family Counters in use with the NEW All About Me Activity Cards in my classroom.

The students are watching a demonstration of how to continue a sequence, such as the purple, blue, purple, blue, you can see in the bottom left of the photo. They are also reinforcing characteristic descriptions such as “smaller”, “boy”, colours and patterning.

Adding: person and cat style! Our next step is to use the formal written number which some of these students are still learning (we were reinforcing the subtraction with finger counting here!).

The structure of these cards allows for group work and discussion as we did here but also for independent and gradual skill building. They are an awesome addition to the math resource collection.

Here is the low down on the All About Me Activity Cards:

Help children learn essential early math skills while learning about themselves and the world around them with 20 double-sided, write & wipe Activity Cards. Illustrations on these full-colour Activity Cards match the actual size of the All About Me Family Counters (202090) and are perfect for developing patterning, early addition and subtraction, and sorting skills. Includes over 40 activities and a guide. PreK+. Ages 5+.

Mini Bilibo Play

As with the larger version the many uses of these mini Bilibo are only limited by your imagination. Here you can see the full-size Bilibo in action and the mini version here! They are pretty cool videos.

I was very excited to try them out and gave them to my children with a mission: find different ways to play with them! They happily accepted.

Rose began organizing them.

Then had them leapfrog jumping over each other.

In the garden, the flowers made potions with liquid watercolour paints and…

…grass and mud!

Next, the Mini Bilibo made their way to the sandbox.

These versatile and colourful mini versions of the Bilibo are a great addition to any play space! Check them out here.

Fun with Family Counters

These All About Me Family Counters are one of the favourite things to play with at the moment.

I am not sure if it is the colour, the quality or the sheer amount of people that make them so appealing, but something works!

Daisy enjoyed organizing them into parties. Here is a circle of friends.

She made patterns and asked Rose, “What comes next?”.

These counters are designed for making your family, patterning, sorting and counting but in our house, everything is used for dramatic play.

With a little balancing, the baby can sit on mama or papa’s hip.

Yet another of the girl’s parties. Rose likes to grab a few people, have conversations and move them about the house.

Yes, they do end up everywhere.

They will be venturing outside to play in the garden soon. We will keep you posted as to what they get up to.

Sorting Fruit by Colour

All that gorgeous fruit from the Avalanche Fruit stand was just asking to be used in other ways. One of the ways we played with it was sorting by colour on the light table.

Daisy instantly decided on her method. She started picking out the blackberries nearest to her and putting them on the purple paper.

Rose watched Daisy for a few seconds and then got to work on her oranges, again choosing to work on one type of fruit at a time.

Both flowers working away happily.

Rose’s hand was struggling to lift with the tweezers and she was about to drop the tweezers when I asked if her hand was tired.

A response of ‘yes’ stimulated a mini-lesson from Daisy on how to use the tweezers. She explained patiently how to place her thumb on one side and two fingers on the other. Very cute.