I love to watch my children learning without even knowing they are doing it. Yes, there’s much to be said about discipline and memorization, just for the sheer sake of it. (I love memorization, by the way.)

But sometimes it’s okay, even healthy, to let little minds just absorb knowledge about the world around them through honest-to-goodness, real life doing and being and, yes, playing.


Here are a few of our very favorite learning manipulatives:

Wedgits and Wee Wedgits



WEDGiTS 20-Piece Starter Tote

Both our sons have a set of Wedgits or Wee Wedgits (for young children), and they LOVE them!  These are a great choice for toddlers and preschoolers, as they encourage creativity and coordination, all while keeping your little ones occupied while the “big kids” are busy with school work!  Our “big kids” love Wedgits, too, by the way!

Wee Wedgits, 30-piece set

Amazon has the best best price I’ve found on Wedgits and Wee Wedgits.

Cuisenaire Rods


My siblings and I used cuisenaire rods during our homeschooling years, and we absolutely loved these colorful “tools” for understanding math!  

As a homeschooling mama, I love observing my younger children sort the shapes and sizes of these rods, or watch my second-grader “get” addition or subtraction. 



“Playing” with cuisenaire rods during school time.

For a highly visual child, cuisenaire rods are a must for understanding math.  Experience speaking!  I honestly believe I would still be stuck in 7th grade math (think fractions) if my mother hadn’t  been wise enough to give me this tangible learning tool.



Again, Amazon has great deals on cuisenaire rods, like this big bucket of 155 rods for less than $18.

Thinking Putty

I bought a tin of Thinking Putty for our 3-year old son at the beginning of our school year last fall.  Oh my, he loves this stuff!  He will sit and play with it for thirty minutes or an hour while his sisters do their school work. 

The beauty of Thinking Putty is that, unlike play dough, it does not dry out, crumble, or get smashed into your carpet.  I can’t recommend this stuff highly enough! 

Amazon has a huge selection of Thinking Putty colors for a great price- several dollars cheaper than what I paid for it at Timberdoodle.

The Purplinker

The Purplinker is another of our favorite discoveries of this school year.  I originally bought it with hopes that it would help entertain our boys (quietly!) during Church services. Of course, all four of our kids ended up loving this funky thing!

You can read my review of the Purplinker for Timberdoodle here. Again, Amazon is slightly cheaper.

Magna Tiles

Magna-Tiles Clear Colors 32 piece set

I discovered Magna Tiles this week at a homeschool field trip to the Fort Worth Museum of Science.  My kids just loved these!  The edges are magnetic, so they “stick” together; kids can build and create to their heart’s content!



I plan to order a set of these Magna Tiles to add to our “learning time” collection.  These are sure to be a new favorite!

Story Time Felts

ABC Puzzle

I loved playing with my mom’s felt sets when I was a child, and wanted to introduce my own children to the world of felts.  I discovered Story Time Felts and immediately fell in love with this company! 


My Animals of the Ark Activity Book

They offer a host of learning felts (for babies and preschoolers and “big kids”), as well as play time felts (such as these cute felt dolls).  I love and recommend them all! 

Most of the time, I purchase our felts directly from the Story Time Felts site.  However, I always check with Amazon first, to see if they carry the particular felt set I’m looking for.


Do you have any “visual learners” in your home?

What are your favorite homeschool manipulatives?


the Natural Cottage Mama


 This post is linked at Proverbs 31 link-up and Hearts 4 Home.

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2 thoughts on “Homeschooling Logistics: Favorite Learning Manipulatives

  1. I love that Cuisenaire Rods made this list!  🙂  
    If ever needed/wanted, follow us on Twitter (@@etacuiseniare:disqus ) or Facebook for activities/lessons regarding Cuisenaire Rods & other manipulatives.  Thank you for the mention and this great blog post.  
    ~Stephanie (ETA/Cuisenaire Social Media Coordinator)

    Posted on January 15, 2012 at 4:55 pm
    1. Thanks for this comment, Stephanie!!  I’ll definitely look you up on FB and Twitter! 

      Posted on January 15, 2012 at 6:06 pm