Preschool Inspirations

The world is their playground!


Preschool Supplies for Back to School — Manipulatives and Puzzles

Preschool Supplies

This is the last post in my series of my favorite supplies for back to school for preschoolers. If you missed my other posts, you can see some preschool must haves by clicking below:

Art, Science, and Math

Sensory Play and Fine Motor

Music and Movement

Now onto some more fantastic learning activities for little ones. I am featuring manipulatives and puzzles, two interest areas that I have seen children participate in for up to an hour in one sitting. It’s just amazing how captivating these activities are, as well as the concepts that children are learning through them. There is no need for a teacher or parent to even say a word for this learning to take place.

Manipulatives involve the fine motor muscles and often times are objects that are made to fit together. They go across many learning domains as they can be used in math, lacing, puzzles, social studies, and more. In my experience these are the most popular activities, so I try to have many out and available. I also allow large blocks of time to give children the opportunity to have an in depth learning experience.

Puzzles are the ultimate favorite of my own children. They each found their love for puzzles at two years old, and their focus and patience blow me away. I am always in awe of how puzzles enable a child to take chaos and turn it into order. There are so many different stages that a child can use puzzles too. An infant can find joy in a puzzle, just as a 10 year old, or even an adult.

Manipulatives for Preschoolers

Pattern Boards and Counting Bears: Both of these are math related, and they are available at most school supply stores as well as on Amazon.

Busy Beads: This is one of the few learning experiences that I keep out all year through my weekly rotations. I find that even the most active children seek solace in twirling the colorful beads about.

Legos: An all time favorite through the years!

Mr. Potato Head: There are so many fun variations of him and his family out there. My best finds for a good deal on them have been at Costco, and I found a Toy Story version at Kohl’s on sale (plus I had a 30% off coupon).

Snapping and Skill Activities: I have a Melissa and Doug snap and sort activity game pictured above. We are a huge fan of any linking or snapping toys. The picture of the lock and latch puzzle in my series collage is another great manipulative that doubles as a puzzle.

Puzzles for Preschoolers

Chunk puzzles: These are perfect for the littlest ones or children who are just beginning with puzzles. They are fun to play with at all levels though! This dinosaur one is a Melissa and Doug creation. We also have some sensory ones that are wonderful to just touch and feel.

Peg Puzzles: The next step up. There are puzzles with jumbo pegs as well as the smaller pegs.

Variety Puzzles: Our magnetic puzzles are such a hit! The ocean one is made by Melissa and Doug. Another favorite puzzle of ours is a shape puzzle that is self correcting. You can see it on my post about fine motor activities.

Piece puzzles: While these are the hardest puzzles to transition into, they can also be the most thrilling once a child puts it together all by himself for the first time. Then the addiction begins. Bring on the 48 piece puzzles once the 24 piece ones become a breeze. My favorite place for great puzzle finds is a dollar store.

Large floor puzzles: It is possible for two children to work on a 24 piece puzzle together, but I would save that for the identical twins who just understand one another that well. My puzzle of choice for teams are the large floor puzzles. I’ve seen groups of four children successfully build a puzzle together. Those are very proud teacher moments by the way!

Well I’m sad to say goodbye to this series as it has the wonderful and enticing school supplies that I love buying each year, but I hope you have found some inspiration to increase learning for the kiddos around you!