Whether your child is an avid bookworm or a completely kinesthetic learner, having a list of great hands-on activities at your disposal is a fantastic way to breathe some new life into your homeschool at the drop of a hat. Sometimes I think we all just need to add a little something different to our daily routine to keep everyone engaged, alert, and ready to learn.
It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to homeschooling because, for many, it’s very convenient to keep lessons confined to the pages of a book where they can easily be completed and checked off the daily to-do list. As easy as that idea sounds, there is only one word I can use to describe a homeschool routine that’s like that day after day- BORING.
Today I’m going to be sharing a list of some ideas and activities that you and your kiddos may find to be enjoyable supplements to what you’re currently learning about.
And remember- hands-on learning is an excellent way to help your children to retain information that otherwise would be quickly forgotten. It provides an anchor for your child to make a connection between what they are learning and how it pertains to the world around them.
All of the activities I’ve listed are things that we have done ourselves, so I know that they work, and I know that they are entertaining- at least they were for us!
The Ultimate List of Hands-On Homeschool Activities
-Make a cardboard castle
A few years ago we made a castle out of cereal boxes when we were learning about the Middle Ages. Not only was it a great project to do together, but it was so informative. I had always assumed that castles were big buildings where kings lived. I had no idea that they were actually walled villages!
-Have a medieval feast
Around the same time we made the castle, we also planned and carried out an intricate medieval feast. My kids each researched different types of servant roles people carried out in that time period such as: carvers, pages, servitors, and jesters. We also found out what sorts of foods were served in that era and went so far as to have our guests eat with their hands out of trenchers- bowls made out of round, crusty bread. We rehearsed “The Wassail Song” and performed it, after which some of the kids juggled and performed magic tricks. Out of all the things we’ve done in our homeschool, this is one of our fondest memories.
– Make some snow candy
Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote fondly of her family’s time making candy out of molasses and snow. My kids didn’t particularly like the taste of this, but they loved making it so much that they’ve made it several times.
– Churn some butter
You don’t need to live on a farm or own a cow to churn some butter! My kids had a blast pretending they were Laura and Mary while they used this simple method to make some homemade butter using only whipping cream and a jar.
-Make a salt dough map
Some kids may be perfectly content working with good old-fashioned maps. My kids, on the other hand, prefer to engage in activities in which they can get their hands dirty. Not only is this a great way to do that, but it’s perfect for getting a 3-D visual on mountains, valleys, rivers, and such.
-Make some lapbooks
While we do more notebooking nowadays than we actually do lapbooking, we had a great time making lapbooks of U.S. Presidents some time ago. I remember my son rattling off all sorts of facts he learned about Abraham Lincoln just off the top of his head that he had picked up while compiling the materials for his lapbook- stuff even I had never heard of!
– Build an ear tunnel
My kids had so much fun crawling through an ear tunnel we set up in our dining room and play room. As they crawled through, they had to name the parts of the ear as they went through, like the auditory canal, the anvil, the hammer, the stirrup, etc. This is sure to be a memory maker!
– Make a safety obstacle course
Have the kids make some stop signs, one way signs, and traffic lights, and set up your yard or another large area for your children to ride a bike or tricycle through to practice obeying traffic rules. Make sure you have someone waiting to cross the street, so your kiddos learn to yield to pedestrians!
I know many people will find this gross (including me), but my kids had such a good time dissecting a cow eyeball with their dad. (Yeah, their dad. Not me. Yuck.) We were able to get two eyeballs for free from a butcher at the farmer’s market. (I don’t even want to think about what was running through his head when we called and asked for one…)
-Plant a garden
Last week, my oldest daughter bought a greenhouse for the back yard. Although it’s been unbearably cold the last few days, my younger daughters are so excited to get their garden started that they’ve already planted their sunflowers and strawberries in pots inside the house. My 12 year old has started documenting their growth on her YouTube channel. Talk about a great way to learn!
-Get some creepy crawlies
Investing in some low-cost creepy crawlies for your kids such as an ant farm, sea monkeys, a butterfly garden, or- my kids’ latest project- a triops aquarium, is a fantastic introduction to biology for kids of all ages.
– Make a candy volcano
This is so easy, but so much fun! Simply make a jello mold inside of a large mixing bowl. After it’s done in the fridge, flip it onto a plate so that the wide part is at the bottom, and it has the shape of a volcano. Using a shot glass or something similar, scoop out a crater in the middle of the volcano- make it as deep as you can. Afterwards, put a few Mentos candies inside; then fill the hole with soda. Watch your delicious volcano erupt!
– Paint a mural of the tropical rainforest
The tropical rainforest is filled with so much life. Have your kids research the layers of the rainforest and what sorts of animals occupy each layer. Using a long piece of butcher paper, have your kids paint their assigned layer as realistically as possible to create a huge mural, and make sure they include the animals!
-Bring on the paper mache to learn about metamorphosis
Using construction paper, have your kids create a variety of butterflies. Afterwards, mix up a batch of paper mache, twist up some newspaper into the shape of caterpillars, and make some paper mache caterpillars. Similarly, crumble some newspaper into ovals and make paper mache chrysalises. Make sure it’s completely dry before you paint it- this may take a day or two!
-Make a Bristlebot
This was my STEM-minded daughter’s first attempt at building a “robot.” Although the original Bristlebot simply uses the head of a tootbrush as the “body,” my daughter quickly adapted this by attaching batteries and cell phone vibrators to the bottoms of her Shopkins to watch them move around the floor.
There are literally thousands of hands-on activities you can do with your kids. With Google and Pinterest at your fingertips, it’s never been easier to find something that will interest your children and make you pretty darn happy, too.
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