A Parent’s Guide to hands on activities with kids! Simple and Fun!
As an educator of many years, I know that young children often learn best from hands on activities. This is for the following reasons.
Firstly, hands on activities are usually more stimulating and fun. This will help get and keep your child’s attention. They will want to complete the activity with very little encouragement or coaxing needed!
Secondly, young children find some activities harder to grasp if they are not directly related. As adults, we take for granted our ability to understand something, even if it is out of context or abstract. For young children, this is not so easy. A hands on activity is directly linked to what you want them to learn. As a side note, this is why I don’t like worksheets for young children, as they can be too abstract and harder to understand for the child. I wrote an article about this too!
In this article, I want to talk about how to easily bring these hands on activities into your home. This will help you inspire and engage your children, in addition to teaching them things!
I feel this article is more needed than ever in the modern age, as modern technology (such as tablets) has encouraged children to spend more time in a non-active manner. It is important that we keep our children active, encourage our children to solve practical problems and keep their brain bubbling over with ideas. Hands on learning to activate and develop all these things!
Give your child’s learning a power boost!
Often, if you try to sit a young child down and lecture them or “talk at” them for extended periods of time, you will see that they will quickly loose interest and focus. This is because children usually have learning style which is better suited to more active styles of learning.
Most young children learn better with a physical or kinesthetic style of learning. Using their hands, bodies and sense of touch to experience their learning.
Seven General tips for your child’s learning
Keep it short and sharp. Young children are not able to focus for extended periods of time, and can get grumpy if you push them too hard in this respect. Help their shorter attention spans, by making sure to take regular breaks. The only exception to this is if you see that your child is really engaged and excited by something. Only then may you see your child working on a single activity for an extended time.
It’s not a one way street. As adults, it is common that we want to naturally take over and “teach” our children at every opportunity. However, it will do wonders for your child’s confidence if you let them take the reins from time to time. Let them teach you something or share their knowledge sometimes!
Questions open up a child’s learning. By discussing and reliving their learning, young children will start to have a deeper understanding. Stimulate this by asking open ended questions. If you want to find out more about open ended questions, I have a whole article on them here. Just be careful not to bombard your child with a continuous flow of questions, as this will have the opposite effect and will put your child under undue pressure.
Use real objects. Hands on learning requires props or objects. Anything your child can touch or feel can make their learning experience more fun. As well as toys and “child friendly” objects, allow your child access to some real objects too. Children love copying what they see adults do, and these real objects will tap into this interest even more.
The outdoors is your classroom! Going outside of the family home can be a novelty for a young child, adding an extra dimension to their learning. Whether it be a special outing to Ocean World or a simple trip to the supermarket, a lot of fun learning experiences can be had.
Stay Active. Children need to be active, so if you find that your child is getting restless take action. Do a dance to their favourite song, or take a quick break with a more active activity. Whatever it takes to get them moving!
Make learning relevant. Make sure to observe your child and take a note of what interests them. They may like certain types of activities or topic areas. By relating their learning to what interests them, you are making that learning more relevant and fun! Is your child obsessed with buses? Simply use toy buses when doing a hands on counting activity!
Five Examples of Hands-On Activities for Children
Hands on learning can take the form of a wide range of activities. Here are just some ideas!
These activities encourage creativity and learning in a practical and fun way.
Music Sparks Creativity. We have all had that feeling of a song that just makes you want to dance! This same motivation can be seen in a child. Dancing and singing are really creative and fun ways to learn. If your child does show an interest and starts developing favourite songs, you might want to make sure you have some musical instruments around the house to stimulate this interest further! You can also find a wide variety of songs on the internet that help teach a wide variety of topics, from numbers to continent names!
Role Play it up! As I said earlier, children simply love to copy what they see adults do. Role play is a great way for them to play this out. You could buy some dress up costumes and doctor role play sets, for example. Whatever your child shows an interest in, you can be sure there are role play resources available! You can also take this further, making learning come alive by acting out. For example, if you want to teach your child all about money, why not role play a supermarket!
Encouage Art at Home! Art is another great way for a child to learn in a hands on way. Whilst having fun, they are also improving their fine motor skills and learning how to create and build something. You don’t even need expensive art and craft materials. Old magazines will make a great basis for cutting and sticking a collage. Old (but clean) food boxes can be made into cool and creative junk models.
Become Mini Scientists. Science can be an excellent way to do hands on activities with your child. These experiments will often amaze your child, leading to a lot of discussion. The amount of learning happening is off the charts, and it’s fun too! There are a plethora of science experiments for kids to be found online. This is one example of a website you could use: http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/. Along with the obvious such as https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/
Construction Toys! Need I say more? Construction toys are an excellent gateway to all manner of fun and hands on activities for a child. Simply building all kinds of models will spark your child’s creativity. You can encourage this more by doing some little tweaks. Combine toys with the constructions toys to prolong their use and fun factor. For example, by combining Lego with plastic animals, maybe your child can make a safari park or a zoo! Also, you can play a speed build game. Give your child a specific time to build a model. Take a photo of their creation. See how they can improve on it next time! The great thing about this, is there are so many different types of construction toys! I have an article on this website with some of my ideas of good construction toys.
There you have it, a simple guide to getting the best out of your child’s learning at home, by using hands on activities.
To wrap up, I would say it is also a great idea to revisit some of these cool hands on experiences. Simply take photos of what you did, and take some time to talk about what happened after the event. This recall of events is also an excellent learning tool for your kids, and will encourage them to do these type of activities again!
If you have any experience of making hands on activities fun with children, we would love to hear all about it in the comments section below!