6 Ways to Encourage Hands on Learning in the Classroom

6 Ways to Encourage Hands on Learning in the Classroom

Posted by By Jenna Cicero on Sep 29th 2022

Children in classroom playing with hands-on learning toys

As teachers, we know first-hand that kids are pretty much always burning with curiosity and eager to make connections between learning and life. Hands on learning fuels that fire by encouraging students to learn by doing. From flash cards and manipulatives to fun puzzles and educational games, hands on learning activities help make learning more meaningful for students in ways they can truly enjoy. Here are a few fun suggestions for how to incorporate hands on learning in the classroom:

Build Lifelong Skills With STEM Activities

The areas of science, technology, engineering, and math provide countless opportunities for hands on exploration. Pose questions, provide materials, and allow students to explore open-ended problems. STEM Challenge Activities are a great way to get kids thinking and problem solving while having fun creating! Students grow plants, build bridges, create machines, and more using common household materials. If you’re on a budget, check out free STEM worksheets that get kids thinking, learning, and getting crafty, or use the In a Flash Super Scientist free printable for standards-based lessons, labs, STEAM challenge, practice activities, games, eBooks, and so much more—all in one complete, printable unit. 

Young students at learning station with language arts puzzle

Get Your (Educational) Game On

Educational games provide opportunities for students to develop strategies and sharpen both cognitive and social skills while enjoying learning important concepts. Check out a few of these quality  educational games for kids that will engage your students and extend their learning in the areas of literacy, math, and science. Your students will have fun applying what they know and deepen their understanding in the process. Puzzles like the Big Box of Sentence Building and Early Learning Puzzles are also a great way to engage students while learning essential skills such as early learning basics and sentence building and structure with hands on practice. There are tons of free games and puzzles worksheets from bingo to word searches that you can incorporate into your lessons for budget-friendly learning that kids never tire of!

Learn by Doing With Manipulatives in the Classroom

I’ve said it before—kids are forever curious, and that applies to their education, too. Classroom manipulatives are amazing hands on tools that help students develop their reading, math, writing, and social-emotional learning skills by actively engaging their discovery during the learning process. From spin wheels and dice to cards on rings, Be Clever Wherever has a variety of manipulatives that kids can truly enjoy while learning essential skills. They even have free add-on printables like small group games, sight word mazes, character-building writing and drawing activities, and even some free bookmarks you can distribute to the whole class!

Practice Skills With Flash Card Fun

Students practicing math with flash cards

Flash cards are an excellent way to introduce new skills, reinforce memorization, and support good study habits. From early learning and phonics to time & money and math flash cards, these fun hands on resources provide engaging practice for a variety of subjects and skills. Flash cards are a great way to study for upcoming quizzes and tests, and reinforce concepts they need to know for future success. Students can practice independently with double-sided flash cards to check their answers and progress, or test your class’s knowledge in small groups or as a whole for a variety of hands on learning activities.

Foster a Love for Reading With Readers' Theater

To help meet the needs of every student, try offering Readers' Theater Time—even your most reluctant kids will become more engaged and interested when it comes to reading. Provide your young readers with a script, costumes, or allow them to create puppets to represent the characters. Reading comes to life as students analyze characters, explore problems and solutions, and follow a sequence of events while creatively weaving together drama and literacy skills that deserve a standing ovation.

Create Noteworthy Experiences With Interactive Notebooks

Students can easily detach from a sterile note-taking process (who doesn’t?). Interactive Notebooks are a great alternative that transforms this mundane task into something more personalized by creating. Students can create and customize notes with artwork, graphs, and other materials that will help them to deepen their understanding of various topics and better retain the knowledge they have gained in a much more engaging manner. Not only that, this process also allows students to express themselves along the way, too!

Play and discovery are so important for the developmental growth of our students’ social, emotional, and cognitive skills, so challenge them to investigate, create, and make discoveries using hands on manipulatives and tools that make learning fun for all. Facilitating creative hands on learning activities and experiences will not only boost student engagement, it will also make your classroom a more stimulating place that will empower them as lifelong learners.