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Tangibles and Tangible Learning

Tangibles are physical objects that can be grasped and manipulated in various ways. Tangible learning, thus, refers to learning with physical objects (sometimes called manipulatives), which can range from wooden blocks to advanced robotics. Manipulatives have existed since ancient times because they can greatly facilitate complex tasks. Asian civilizations, for instance, used abaci to count and perform complex mathematical operations. They were an indispensable tool before the Arabic numeral system was adopted. This entry first discusses the historical development of tangibles designed specifically for learning and the use of physical manipulatives for early childhood development. It then discusses new forms of tangible learning and the potential benefits and pitfalls of using tangibles for learning.

In the late 1800s, educational manipulatives developed specifically for learning became popular. ...

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