Building Blocks vs. Manipulatives: What’s the Difference?
First, you might be wondering how building blocks can benefit your child’s STEM skills, since blocks are technically considered manipulatives in the sense that kids manipulate blocks with their hands to build things. When younger kids use blocks, they develop fine motor skills as they learn to stack them to make towers. In this sense, blocks are used during the preschool and toddler years as manipulatives to increase muscle tone and motor skills.
Manipulatives, like blocks, are used to encourage the development of individual skills, like improving fine motor skills. Other manipulatives, like tangrams, pegboards, or math counters, help kids learn math concepts. While math is an important part of STEM learning, building blocks have the potential of teaching a multitude of STEM concepts besides merely math and motor skills.