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Board Games That Use Manipulatives

Feb 19, 2019


Jane David

First, let’s define what manipulatives are. They are objects that allow us to explore an idea or a concept in a hands-on manner. Manipulatives provide a tangible foundation, helping us grasp abstract ideas. They can be made of plastic, paper, or wood, and can take the form of cubes, blocks, tiles, miniature buildings, or just about any material.

The difference between play and using manipulatives is profound. In play  there are no rules. On the other hand, using manipulatives requires solving specific problems and achieving certain goals.

Board games are a great example of how manipulatives can be used.  The game’s pieces help objectify. That’s because players can actually touch and rearrange the pieces. This is different than just having to think through the problem. In real life, models are often used as manipulatives. Think about architects and automobile designers who build miniature models of their projects. Same principle.

At Toys Games Puzzles, we strongly believe that learning should co-exist with play. The award-winning Tantrix® game, which can be played alone or with others, is a terrific example. Tantrix® involves arranging hexagonal tiles, each with three color tracks, so that the tracks form a complete line or closed loop, only using one color. Sounds easy, right? But, amazingly, Tantrix® can be quite tricky, and also a lot of fun for the family.

Cathedral®, another popular award-winning board game, is a duel of strategy where the manipulatives take the form of wooden shapes of medieval buildings. Each building occupies between one and five square spaces on the board. The goal of Cathedral® is to capture the opponent’s territory. Players take turns placing their buildings onto the board, and the player who ends up with the fewest amount of spaces in his territory, wins.

Thanks for reading! Take a look at our selection of board games for children and board games for ages 8 and up

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