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Mixing Manipulatives

During a visit to schools in the Xhariep district of the Free State, teachers demonstrated their skills and enthusiasm by using Six Bricks to create high-quality lessons. They used a variety of manipulatives to actively involve learners in hands-on activities that enhance developmental skills, executive functioning, and subjects like numeracy, literacy, and life skills.

Why use manipulatives?

By incorporating hands-on manipulatives into the learning process, learning becomes playful and exciting, motor skills flourish, and learner engagement reaches new heights.

How can manipulatives look in the classroom?

Let’s delve into one of our favourite lessons from a Grade R classroom in the Free State!


The classroom buzzed with energy as a lively group of 5-year-old learners, who had recently completed their first term of Grade R, filled the air with their enthusiastic chatter. After a quick bathroom break, the teacher skillfully guided the animated bunch back to the classroom, ensuring they washed their hands thoroughly.

Seated in their groups of four or five around the tables, the learners displayed familiarity with this arrangement, effortlessly following instructions. At the heart of the room the teacher gathered a group of eight children on the classroom mat, placing them front and centre for an exciting learning adventure.

The classroom itself was a treasure trove of resources, with an array of equipment tucked away in various corners. Eagerly, the children delved into their kits, each table brimming with a unique set of manipulatives. Their imaginations ignited, they immersed themselves in games and creative play with dough and bricks, skillfully refining their fine-motor coordination. From crafting intricate patterns with “Chinese Checkers” to threading buttons and building structures, their shared enthusiasm echoed throughout the room. Collaboration flowed effortlessly as they supported and cheered each other, proud of their collective achievements.

Amidst the buzz, the teacher focused on a group of eight learners on the mat, using Six Bricks to guide them through a routine of colour identification and the development of sequential patterns.

Whenever order or attention was required during the lesson, the teacher seamlessly integrated songs. The learners eagerly focused their attention, singing along to familiar tunes that served as a simple yet highly effective method of classroom management, fostering concentration and active engagement.

In the end, the lesson exemplified active differentiated learning, with every learner embracing meaningful engagement on their exciting journey of discovery and learning.


Moral of the story?

Embrace the use of manipulatives! They provide an exciting avenue to enhance understanding and bridge the gap between abstract concepts and tangible experiences. Manipulatives play a crucial role in enhancing teaching by creating an engaging environment for interactive and playful learning.


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