The ABCs of Learning Toys and Manipulatives: A-E

This post contains affiliate links. To learn more, please read my full disclosure policy.The ABCs of Learning Toys and Manipulatives: Day 1~ A-E | This Reading MamaWelcome to This Reading Mama and welcome to the 5 day series from Kid Blogger Network called The ABCs of…!  I hope you’ll stick around this week because I’m super excited to post about learning toys and manipulatives you can use with each letter of the alphabet (all in ABC order, of course!).  To read more about this series, click here or on the image above.


Words highlighted in blue are actual links and will take you to a product page or a post where you can see the item being used in action.


A is for…

photo of foam alphabet puzzles

B is for…

  • BALANCE SCALE– a scale is fun to just play with or use for educational puposes
  • BALLOONS– Staple two styrofoam plates together.  Slide in a tongue depressor and tape in place.  Use as a paddle to hit blown up balloons for a quiet game that reinforces gross motor skills, use them to paint with, static electricity is fun with balloons in the winter time, or simply play with the balloons together!
  • BALLS– indoor or outdoor, these hop balls are a TON of fun!
  • BAND AIDS – peel off and stick, great for fine motor
  • BARN– great to also go with a farm theme
  • BASKETS organize toys, sort manipulatives, stack and nest

photo of spelling words in the bathtub

  • BATH TIME! – get in the tub and have fun…no need to wait for bedtime, so much learning can take place in there!
  • BEADS I love the small pony beads, the larger lacing beads, and these cool snap beads– these are all great and fun ways to sneak in some fine motor!
  • BEANS (dried)- these are super cheap and can be used in so many ways: sorting, counting, as make-shift counters, the list goes on and on!
  • BILIBO– kids can use their imaginiation for so many purposes
  • BLOCKS– We love blocks over here.  My favorite are wooden blocks.  You can do so many things with blocks: build & engineer, practice shapes, symmetry, Hands On as We Grow has a great round up.
  • BOARD GAMES– Our favorites are Candy Land, Hi-Ho Cherrio, Guess Who?, and Chutes and Ladders. We also have many games from Thinkfun.
  • BOATS– for in the tub or water table
  • BOOKS (of course, this one needs to go with every letter)

photo of toddler transferring bottle caps

  • BOTTLES Discovery Bottles, baby bottles, or bottles used in a recycled way
  • BRISTLE BLOCKS great for fine motor
  • BUBBLE WRAP– who doesn’t love to pop the little bubbles? I’m a bit addicted myself-great for fine motor!
  • BUCKETSuse in the same matter as baskets
  • BUS
  • BUTTONS– Buttons are great because they’re so versatile.  I have used smaller buttons with my oldest child in school to sort and we also have the larger size.  3 Dinosaurs has a great round-up, listing 25+ things you can do with buttons.


C is for…

  • CANDY– sort it, measure it, do some science experiments!  Candy makes learning super fun!
  • CAPE
  • CARDSUno is a favorite around here, but you can play so many games with just a regular deck of cards!

photo of parking cars in a row

  • CARS
  • CART– integrate a little shopping cart into learning about environmental print
  • CLAY
  • CLOTHES PINS – great for fine motor
  • COINS – or use chips from games such as Connect 4 like MBug does here
  • CONES-we have these ice cream cones or you could play with pretend parking cones
  • COOKIE CUTTERS – for Playdough fun, dip into paint and place on paper, or use as make-shift stencils
  • COUNTING COOKIES My kids LOVE these and I love that three of my child learned their numbers 1-10 just from playing with these!
  • COOKIE TRAY– use the metal trays for those magnetic letters or numbers, you can find these at the $1 store
  • COOTIES– great for fine motor
  • CORN MEAL– place in a cookie tray and “write” letters, numbers, or words with finger of dominant hand
  • COUNTERS I like the two-sided counters for math work, but they come in literally all shapes and sizes, like the family counters we recently reviewed from Learning Resources. And don’t forget that you can use anything as counters: pennies, beans, buttons, etc.
  • COUPONS– practice cutting out unused or expired coupons

photo of using craft sticks to spell words

  • CUPS plastic, sytrofoam, or paper- use them for stacking, sorting, or counting


D is for…

photo of playing with dominoes

  • DOMINOES– we also have this domino race set. I would highly recommend it if you have a little engineer.
  • DOWELS– tie and string and magnet and use as a fishing pole
  • DRESS-UP– also a great time to go over those body parts we don’t talk about too much like ankle, wrist, or armpits!
  • DRUM
  • DRY ERASE BOARDSyou can purchase them or make your own with shower board from your local hardware store
  • DRY ERASE MARKERS– I love Crayola’s new washable dry erase markers!  We not only use them on our boards but also in our Handwriting Notebooks for schoolwork.
  • DUCKS Number Duck game, Lucky ducks, plastic or stuffed animal ducks
  • DUPLO BLOCKS– we have many sets combined into one bin.  From an educational stand-point, my two favorite sets are the numbers 1-10 and ABCs.


E is for…

  • EASEL– We have the IKEA one; at only 14.99, you really can’t beat the price!
  • EDUCATION CUBES– We LOVE ours and use them ALL the time!  I even have a 68 pg. FREE download full of literacy activities for “likers” of my Facebook page!  You can also join and purchase some there
  • EGG CARTON– you create all kinds of crafts, play learning games, and practice some fine motor by dropping small objects into each hole. I also think the Language Egg Carton and Math Egg Carton from Learning Resources are cool!

photo of egg scavenger hunt

  • EGGS– plastic eggs from Easter work any time of year; you can make some great scavenger hunts with them or hide things inside, with your child guessing the contents by shaking
  • ERASERS– the small erasers make for some great fine motor and math skills as they are sorted or counted; you can find some to go with about any theme
  • EYES– glue googly eyes to rocks, add to crafts, great for fine motor!

Be sure to stay tuned for Letters F-J tomorrow!  


To check out more bloggers also posting their ABC’s of learning through play, check out these series posts:

KBN ABCs of Button

 To see ALL of the bloggers and topics listed for The ABC’s of…, click on the image above!

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  1. I love everything you did!

  2. Welcome to a new Linky Party for Kid-Focused Bloggers. Monday Kid Corner is a place to share your kid-friendly activities and crafts. Please join us at See you there!

  3. This is wonderful! Right now we are working on an ABC art book. I love the idea of playing with manipulatives, too.

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