Why Use Manipulatives?
Try to teach a toddler the concept of “three” or the significance of the numerical character “3”. Almost immediately you will resort to a visualization; you will hold up three fingers. Better yet, you will have the child hold up three of his fingers. By doing so, you will have just taught with manipulatives.
Much modern instruction is concept based, using abstractions (words or symbols). Many students do not grasp what a noun or a verb or a complete sentence is because they cannot see the thing. Like the toddler, these students need something tangible to represent the concept. We give them colored blocks, each color performing its specialized task like an individual chess piece. This is multi-sensory instruction, and it works. Better yet, we can have the student himself arrange and move those colored blocks. Like the toddler’s flexing his own fingers, the student’s muscular activity of arranging blocks reinforces learning. This physical movement combines multi-sensory instruction and manipulative instruction for a supercharged learning process.
Does it work? Test results from the Hands-On English with Linking Blocks program are impressive. Twenty-five students took a 50-question test of English grammar before the course and again after the course. All students in the test group improved their score by 36 or more points. If a student earned only a 48% (an F) on the pre-test, he achieved an 84% (a B) on the post-test. If the Hands-On English with Linking Blocks program is this powerful in a small group, imagine its potential impact when applied to high-need at-risk populations such as dyslexic students! The attached testimonial from Pam Johnson of Rockford, Illinois, gives a glimpse of the profound impact that the multi-sensory, manipulative instruction of Hands-On English with Linking Blocks had upon her 15-year-old son.
We invite you to participate in this unique new educational venture that has potential to deliver a generation of bright, creative thinkers whose struggle with normal educational methods too often relegates them to cast-off status or ill-fitting special ed programs. Come impact the future with us!