MAKING LEARNING MORE HANDS ON
Updated: Jul 9
Hands-on learning is incredibly engaging, as children are actively involved in their learning. More areas of the brain are stimulated because the activities usually involve talking, listening and moving. Suddenly, children can see how a concept can be used in the real world. No wonder it's the most popular type of learning with children! As an advocate of hands-on learning, I'm often asked how lessons can be made more interactive, so I thought that I'd put together a handy list. If the thought of the whole class being involved in active learning makes you break out in a cold sweat, just use the activities with a group at a time initially and take it from there.
Use Number Generators
In other words, dice or number spinners! You will find yourself using these all of the time for maths activities-they're inexpensive and you probably already have a set in the classroom. They're perfect for counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and more. The NRICH website has some great dice and spinner games. There's also interactive dice and spinners for children to use too! Alternatively, you can of course buy physical dice and spinners, or even have a go at making your own!
A lesson can easily be made more engaging, simply by getting children moving. This might be a simple thumbs up/down activity or a parachute game. You could devise a game where children have to move around the classroom, for example a scavenger hunt or a scoot game. To play scoot, children answer questions on task cards which are hung on the walls around the classroom or set out on tables. They complete a recording sheet as they go. Another simple task might be a clip card activity, where children use a peg to 'clip' the correct multiple choice answer to a question.
Appeal to the 5 Senses
The more senses needed to complete an activity, the more learning that occurs. Children could dig for letters in sand, air write, draw in shaving foam or make 3D shapes using clay. They could roll marbles around number moulds made from clay or playdough. Using highlighters immediately makes an activity more visually appealing. Teaching times tables through songs or raps is a great auditory strategy to use with children.
Play Board Games
Most learning objectives can be incorporated into a board game, whether it be to recognise different types of punctuation or to learn the week's spellings. A quick Google of 'board game templates' brings up hundreds of options to download. Just edit it each time you want to create a new game. In addition to teaching a specific skill, board games encourage speaking, listening and turn taking!
Kids love being in the kitchen and won't even realise that they're learning whilst baking! From following instructions, to measuring out ingredients, to learning about different cultures, to finding out about changes in the state of materials - this is a great one to do with groups!
Playing isn't just for little ones. All children love to play! When I taught Reception, the Year 6 'buddies' used to have a whale of a time playing in the home corner! A great wealth of learning takes place through playing. Children can count the number of wheels on different vehicles, divide farm animals into fields or think of adjectives to describe a variety of toys. They might play Battle Ships to learn about coordinates or use a fortune teller which helps them to learn about converting fractions to decimals.
Children Become Designers
Let the children in your class become the designers. Can they create their own game to cover a particular skill? This might be a board, card, dice or digital game. Once the children have made their games, they can then have a go at playing with each others. A great way for children to take ownership of their learning and to demonstrate their knowledge!
Unlock the Art Cupboard!
Rather than completing a worksheet about the Romans, why not ask children to create a Roman shield or soldier? In addition to reading about Greek gods, challenge your class to paint a picture of one! Instead of completing a reading comprehension about Victorians, children might print their own William Morris wallpaper designs. Train your class to set up and tidy away resources themselves. If you visit your school's early years department, you'll find those children doing it!
Set up a crime scene as a stimulus for creative writing, go on a languages treasure hunt or use nature to inspire poetry. The possibilities for learning outdoors are endless! Going outside can also help to decrease stress, while increasing physical activity. I for one, have fond memories of the rare occasions when we were able to go outside to learn at school! Why not make the most of all of the space available to you, rather than having 30 children squeezed into a classroom!
For a great selection of hands-on learning games and activities, don't forget to visit my No Worksheets Allowed store. Take a look at my Amazon shop for some fun tried and tested educational resources. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.