I was the girl who 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
- carefully bubbling in scantron testing forms
- 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
For mom, of course.
Bonus Hands-On Homeschool Ideas
Hands-on learning brings excitement back to school time. It takes the kids out of the books and puts learning literally in their own hands. Exploration through touch builds mental images that create memories unlike any other form of learning. This is especially true for kinesthetic learners — kids who learn best through touch or movement.
Looking for more great hands-on ideas? Here are posts from iHN members who share their favorite projects.
- 6 Hands-On Learning Activities for the Not-So-Crafty Mom by Dachelle at Hide The Chocolate
- 8 Ways to Use Kinetic Sand for Math by Crystal at Triumphant Learning
- 10 Frugal Ways to Use Buttons for Hands-On Learning Fun by Amy at Rock Your Homeschool
- 10 Hands-On Geography Activities You Have to Try by Selena at Look! We’re Learning!
- 10 Hands-On Learning Materials for Sneaky Math Fun by Amy at Rock Your Homeschool
- 10 Hands-on Reading and Writing Activities for Homeschool Moms by Ginny at Not So Formulaic
- Baking Days Teach Math, Reading and Life Skills by Bonnie at the Koala Mom
- Candy Math: 6 Fun Books for Hands-On Learning Fun by Amy at Rock Your Homeschool
- Early Math FUN! – Making a Manipulatives Kit and More! by Betsy at BJ’s Homeschool
- Elementary Hands-on Math Teaching Ideas by Karyn at Teach Beside Me
- Hands-On Activities For The Struggling Reader by Shawna Wingert at Not The Former Things
- Hands-On Elementary Science with Christian Kids Explore Biology by Sara at Embracing Destiny
- Hands-On Homeschooling series by Sara at Embracing Destiny
- Hands on Ideas for Studying Catholic Saints by Dianna at The Kennedy Adventures
- Hands on Science Experiments for Kids by Ashley at Forgetful Momma
- Hands-On Summer Homeschooling by Sara at The Homeschool Post
- How To Build a Hands-On Homeschool by Cindy at Our Journey Westward
- Our Favorite Resources for Hands-On Science – Elementary by Betsy at BJ’s Homeschool
- Preschool Activities We Love! by Veronica at An Upstream Life
- Practice Math Complements to Master Addition and Subtraction Facts by Crystal at Triumphant Learning
- Practice telling time with a hula hoop by Crystal at Triumphant Learning
- PrismPals Teach Kids about Geometric Shapes by Bonnie at the Koala Mom
- Simple Hands-On Science Activities for Kids by Michelle at Homeschool-Your-Boys