Planning Hands-On Activities

Welcome to the first post in the Hands-On Learning series by Stef Layton. Do you have a hands-on learner? These posts will give you great insight, advice, and practical application tips. Enjoy!

I so enjoyed the Homeschooling Today Facebook party last week and the opportunity to answer your hands-on questions. I wanted to take some time and expand on some of those great questions here.Kris asked, We love hands-on activities. What are some of your tips for busy moms who want to do hands-on activities, but don’t have a lot of planning time?

1. Keep It Simple. Chances are if you’re bogged down in too many detail it will confuse more than educate. When we started really embracing our hands-on learner it was basic. Mold play doh into the animal or anatomy we were studying. Build a famous landmark with legos.  Keep in mind, you are not making a wall craft but helping your hands-on learner understand, learn, and remember a concept. 

 2. Get Inspired. I can stare at a map for hours and not come up with one activity besides pin-the-state-on-the-wall (oh, new great idea – we’ll have to try that). Go to a craft or supply store, walk down those aisles, check out what supplies you have at home. Dump something on the table and work from there. Often times I do not have an “end project” in mind just the supplies to get us started.

3. Ask Your Learner. Often I would think one activity was amazing and it would go over like a dud. When I started asking my son how he wanted to build, create, mold, sculpt, or even destroy a project he had many more ideas. He is the tactile one – not me!

4. Work After. Some days I had zero hands-on activities planned, and moms that’s totally okay give yourself some grace! During a lesson an idea might have sparked that we could incorporate later or my son could do on his own. (,Minecraft was awesome for building temples, landmarks, ancient civilizations, viking ships, etc. keep it on “creative mode”) Or my son would bring me something he had created on his own that he wanted to build after our lesson.

I truly believe one impacting hands-on project is better than 100 little busy work ideas.

I deplore busy work and you might feel stretched coming up with something every second just to keep children entertained. If that’s the case step back and ask – do I have a busy child or a hands-on learner? You can easily find busy work that does not flow with your lessons  ~ this is when I incorporate random art projects.

Stef Layton lives in Orlando, Florida homeschooling two tactile learners. Stef is the Hands-On Learning Columnist for Homeschooling Today magazine. This year she started showing hands-on activities on youtube. You can follow her on Instagram or Twitter @StefMLayton.
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