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Play for hands-on learning: Research reviews

Education interventions involving physical manipulatives for improving children's learning and development: A scoping review

We’ve been carrying out an exciting piece of research looking into the many ways hands-on learning activities with physical objects – or physical manipulatives – can encourage children’s active engagement in everyday learning.

A team of us in the PEDAL Centre have been working with the LEGO Foundation to conduct something called a scoping review. To do this, we reviewed the literature that’s already looking into this topic to map the landscape of this important area of research.

You can find out more about what we found in the resources below.


Our quick-read blog post provides answers to key questions including: What are physical manipulatives? What is a scoping review? What did we find? How can we use physical manipulatives in everyday learning?

Summary of report

Our 5-page summary offers an overview of our approach to the research, highlights the findings of some key studies, and outlines our take-home messages and recommendations.

Full report

Our 65-page report gives an in-depth review of the research literature looking into educational programmes involving physical manipulatives for young children.