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Top 6 Reasons to Use Hands-on Projects


Hands-on = Brain at Work

Board games, dice, dominoes, cards, arts and crafts, science experiments, nature walks and nature journaling, lapbooking, making models and dioramas, making costumes and acting -- these are all hands-on activities that can be used in education.

Hands-on learning is advocated by homeschoolers of all types -- from Charlotte Mason style to Unschoolers. But why should you use hands-on approaches to learn and to teach? Here are six reasons why!

Six Benefits of Hands-on Learning

Why do hands-on projects?

Here are six main benefits of hands-on learning.


1. FUN

Children love them! (And lots of moms do to!) Doing hands-on activities increases motivation to "do homeschool." Your children will be more enthusiastic and pay more attention to their lessons.


Working on a project is the perfect opportunity to highlight your children's creative skills. Offer some guidance and lots of raw materials, and let your children be free to create an original product that reflects their own insights of the topic being studied.

Warning - Moms, be careful not to squelch the creative aspect of hands-on learning by over planning, over managing, and by unrealistic expectations. The finished product needs to be your child's and not your own. For example, let her use her own childish drawings instead of the lovely full color images you printed from the Internet, if she wants.



It has been proven through educational research that students will have a vivid and lasting understanding of what they DO much more than what they only hear or see. Make sure that your project directly ties to learning the facts of your unit study or curriculum. As you're creating, continually remind your children WHY you are doing this activity. The project gives them a concrete, visible foundation for learning the abstract, conceptual facts you want them to know.


Persevering through a project and seeing it to completion gives your child a great sense of accomplishment! Seeing your child's pride in a job well done is worth your trouble of organizing and cleaning up a hands-on project. (Really, it is!)



This one is wonderfully tied to the sense of accomplishment. Your children will love to look at their hands-on projects again and again. By doing so, they are reviewing what they learned! When a relative or friend comes to visit and your son pulls out his model ship, he again reviews what he learned in homeschool. This review fosters retention of the subject matter! (See, it really was worth the clean up!)


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Your children can work together on a hands-on project. Or even if you have an only child (like me), you and your child are working together. This cooperation, this working together, is what being a family is. This is why many of us chose to homeschool in the first place. Doing hands-on projects creates family memories and strong relationships.

Poll about Hands-On Projects

Awesome Hands-on Activities For Teaching Grammar

Hands-on Ideas


Homemade Grammar Board Game

Try some of these creative ideas for hands on activities. When you're done, be sure to blog it or upload your photos to Flickr for safekeeping, bragging rights, and helping others.

  • Board Games
    Make your own board games! You'll find tips and links to free templates for board games, spinners, and dice.
  • Hands-on Project Ideas
    Links to general hands-on projects, organized by learning style - read/write, visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.
  • Printable Math Manipulatives
    Make them and then use them! Double hands-on!
  • Habitat Dioramas
    Instant shoebox dioramas. Just print, color, and assemble!
  • Exploratorium's Hands On Activities Page
    These are science experiments and so much more! Lots of ideas for educational creating and exploring.
  • Cootie Catchers
    These simple paper crafts can be adapted for many different lessons -- math, history, science, language arts.
  • Pyramid Diorama
    Another paper craft idea that can be used for almost any topic of study -- a book report, a science lab report, or a research project.

Ways to Cope with Hands-on Projects

Many moms really dislike the hands-on aspect of their curriculum -- the crafts or the science experiments. It just seems like a huge time waster or a big mess to clean up. And then there's the issue of what to do with all these projects after they are made.

Well, yes, doing hands-on learning can mean more messes, more clean-up, and more preparation time. But there are some ways to make hands-on projects more palatable.

1. Leave them all for one day.

Postpone the hands-on activities for one day or for one entire week. Don't do any other school that day - just the fun stuff. You house will be a mess, but only for that one day. You will see your children's faces light up when you tell them that today's school is all hands-on.

2. Enlist the children in clean up.

This goes without saying, but it's a good reminder: Mom, you don't have to do all the cleaning. You can even tell the children that part of the bargain with having this all day, hands-on, fun homeschool is that at the end of the day they have to help clean up.


3. Consider that the price is worth it.

Some things cost a lot, but we're willing to pay big bucks because we really want them or because the quality is really good. Hands-on projects are like that. They do cost a bit by way of planning time, organizing and buying materials, actually doing the project, and then clean up. BUT the payoff is worth the hassle. Review the benefits to remind yourself.

4. Be creative with these finished products!

My favorite tip is to take digital photos of the project. I usually upload the images online at Flickr. Flickr is a great resource for homeschoolers to record their hands-on projects. Then I post the electronic photos on my blog, and save the images to disc as well. We forever have a record of the diorama or the recycled trash cat. And the actual craft can be thrown away (when your dear children are not looking, of course).


The Homeschool Classroom has a helpful article titled Organizing and Displaying Children's Artwork. There are several example photos there to give you great ideas.

5. Realize that these years pass quickly.

Cherish each moment, each lesson, each messy craft with your children. You are making memories. In a few more years, they won't want to do a craft or science project with you.

20 Hands-On Activities for Learning Idioms

More Hands-on Help - an Ebook


Hands-On Learning: Cross-Curricular Projects to Make Learning Come Alive!

is an eBook by Kris of

Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

A veteran homeschool mom of over 9 years, Kris shares her secrets of making learning fun with hands-on activities.

Click here to view more details


Teddi14 LM on June 11, 2011:

Great lens! People need to be remind about why hands on is so important.

Ann Hinds from So Cal on April 01, 2011:

Just starting with homeschooling but hands on will be very much a part of what we do. Angel blessed.

MargoPArrowsmith on January 11, 2011:

Hands on is always good

julieannbrady on September 15, 2010:

Oh my this is marvelous ... I particularly LOVE to use my hands, you know ... and get crafty for Halloween too ................ BOO!!!

Evelyn Saenz from Royalton on January 11, 2010:

Often when creating projects children are having so much fun that they don't even realize that they are learning. There is nothing like hands-on learning activities to engage your children in learning.

JoyfulPamela2 from Pennsylvania, USA on October 12, 2009:

The more hands on, the better ~ Thank you for another lens of wonderful ideas! :)


myraggededge on August 10, 2009:

Really good. Another lovely lens. 5*s

We'd love to see it at Lesson Plans Group under the appropriate Plexo.

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on July 04, 2009:

Lensrolling to my Queen Anne's Lace.

Joan4 on June 25, 2009:

Even as an adult, I learn best hands on! Super info !

Laniann on June 21, 2009:

Excellent advice and recommendations. 5*s

anonymous on June 21, 2009:

Very cool lens :) Kids do love these more, they don't care about mess-just fun!

Nancy Tate Hellams from Pendleton, SC on June 20, 2009:

Great lens. I love hands-on projects.

anonymous on June 20, 2009:

We love hands-on activities... we do not like the cleaning up part, Storage is a challenge esp. when relocating, kids do not want to let go off them. Ha ha! But these are brilliant ideas, I would check out the links.. Thanks!

religions7 on June 20, 2009:

While I agree with the general principle, I do think it also depends on the kind of child you have on your hands: their age, their talents, their temperament. My brother for instance was very happy to get photographic paper for his 10th birthday, which was very frustrating for me... What was frustrating? He got it, but he wouldn't use it. But he would also not let ME use it... Different temperaments: I'm a hands on kind of person. My brother was very happy just contemplating the options without doing anything ABOUT them. No surprise that I'm the only one of us who can drive a car now :)

anonymous on June 19, 2009:

I love the note about it being the child's project and not your own - there was a great "French & Saunders" sketch about this on British TV years ago - you may be able to find it on YouTube - both the mothers completely took over.

We love hands on stuff because we are kinesthetic learners.

Another great lens Jimmie and Angel Blessings.

Spook LM on June 19, 2009:

Loved the chinese proverb except I do and I still don't understand. Especially with the PC. Having said another excellent lens.

anonymous on June 19, 2009:

Yet another fantastic lens Jimmie! The mind follows the hand: if you want learning to occur, the hands must be busy :)

ctavias0ffering1 on June 19, 2009:

Excellent lens, kids just love doing things and learn without even realising it. 5*

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