Firsthand interaction with manipulatives helps children understand mathematics by providing concrete ways for them to bring meaning to abstract mathematical ideas. Manipulatives help children learn new concepts and relate new concepts to what they have already learned. They also assist children with solving problems.
When children explore with manipulatives, they have the opportunity to see mathematical relationships. They have tactile and visual models that help develop their understanding. Without these concrete references, children are too often lost in a morass of abstract symbols for which they have no concrete connection or comprehension.
Age Recommendation: 3 - 7 years old