Top 10 Resources To Encourage Hands-On Learning

I was the girl that loved worksheets.

Seriously, growing up in a school environment was quite good for me.

I loved writing my name in the upper right hand corner. I loved carefully bubbling in scantron testing forms. I loved filling out a fresh, new worksheet with the multiple choices, fill in the blanks and true or false questions.

So you can imagine my frustration (and even surprise) when my two sons were not doing well in school. All of the teaching methods that worked so well for me, were exactly the opposite of what my children needed.

Both of my sons have learning differences that make a standard approach to learning difficult at best, and impossible at worst.

Top 10 Resources For Hands On Learning

I have spent years trying to come up with less book work and more hands-on learning resources. It has been slow work. At times, it has been frustrating work. But most importantly, it has been rewarding and effective work.

Because it doesn’t necessarily come naturally for me, trial and error have been my best teachers.

Moms often ask me how to create an environment rich in hands-on, movement oriented learning. I think they are worried that it will cost a ton of money, and require a ton of time. But my experience has been quite the opposite.

Please, allow me to share.

My Top 10 Resources to Encourage Hands-On Learning

1. Chalkboard/Window Markers – Spelling and math practice are so much more fun when completed on our sliding glass door. This also works well on mirrors and windows. The best part is that they wipe off with water and you can move on to the next lesson.

2. Shaving Cream – Spelling, math and occupational therapy all in your bathroom. I spray shaving cream on the shower wall and use it for my son to practice his letters and sight words. Incidentally, shaving cream makes an excellent shower cleaner!

Top 10 Resources For Hands-On Learning

3. Montessori 3D letters – These letters have made a huge difference in our home. My son needed to see the letters three dimensionally in order to really retain and be able to replicate their unique features. If you don’t want to spend the money on these wooden letters, you can also make letters in homemade play-dough and let them dry. (Another hands-on activity!)

4. A Timer – In my experience, making it a race is always more fun.

top 10 Resources for hands-on learning

5. Twister – This classic game has been a wonderful addition to our days. Place letters, numbers or sight words on the circles and start stretching (Note: You will hurt yourself, but your child will be thrilled).

6. Minecraft Signs – I may be late to the part on this one, but did you know that our children can place signs in their Minecraft worlds? Incorporating in reading and writing with my child’s favorite game has been quite the win-win.

7. Trampoline – We complete read-alouds while my son jumps. We practice math facts with me calling out equations and my son jumping to the answers on paper around the ring. Any size trampoline allows a child to move while you teach.

8. Sidewalk Chalk – Reading, spelling and math practice outside with easy clean-up? Yes, please. I write out sight words all over our patio and have my son hop to them as he decodes.

Top 10 Resources for Hands-On Learning

9. Vinegar and Baking Soda – In any capacity, this mixture always turns around a tough day. Our favorites are grenades (These take less effort and use less of my kitchen staples. Place the concoction in a zip lock bag, seal, toss and watch the chemical reaction happen). Also, flour and water. Anything that involves mixing up flour and water is a good thing around here!

10. Coffee – For mom, of course.

What resources have you found work best for hands-on learning? What should I add to this list?

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About Shawna

Shawna Wingert writes about motherhood, special needs and the beauty of everyday messes at She is an accidental writer, a passionate speaker and has been a part of special needs discussions on, Autism Speaks, The Mighty, For Every Mom, Simple Homeschool, and The Huffington Post. She is the author of two books, Everyday Autism and Special Education at Home. Shawna lives in Southern California with her voice actor husband, and two awesome sons