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Hands-on Learning

Hands-on Learning

posted by Karen Quinn, The Testing Mom - March 28th, 2019

My Personal Experience of Hands-on Learning

Hands-On Learning

A while back, I had to suck it up and finally start wearing reading glasses – it was a big step into aging that I wasn’t ready to take.  I had posited for years that I’d never experienced any eye problems when I read, so how could that magically happen TO ME one day?  It just didn’t add up in my logical mind, but perhaps I just didn’t want to believe it!

Nonetheless, when this dreaded life occurrence knocked on my door, I unwillingly experienced it firsthand.  I mean, no amount of people everywhere wearing readers or friends telling me that it was going to happen would make me believe it…..I was in denial for sure!  But, it was my personal experience that taught me otherwise…..that, I too, would now require reading glasses!  Ugh.

With all of the educational concepts your child will need to master by kindergarten, let me share games and activities that you can play with your child to offer more experiences and hands-on learning opportunities.  So, without further adieu, here are tons of fun ways to teach and reinforce these learning concepts.


How to Teach Hands-on Learning Concepts to Your Child


  • Age infant + = talk about color in daily conversations, such as “Would you like to eat a red apple?” or “Can you pick up the pink pencil?”
  • Age infant + = use food in demonstration such as “This carrot is orange,” or “These peas are green,” etc.
  • Age 1+ = create with color using crayons, paints, markers, paper and more and talk about each color and how it makes you feel.
  • Age 2.5+ = make a book of “color” where each page includes items cut out from magazines of a certain color, i.e., one page includes all red things, the next is all yellow things.
  • Age 2.5+ = play a game where you list items of one color and let your child guess what color you’re thinking of. For example:  banana, the sun, butter = yellow.  Then it’s your child’s turn to give the clues while you guess!



  • Sing the alphabet song to your child from the time she is a baby.
  • Read alphabet picture books together.
  • Teach your child to recognize letters, starting with her name, by making a game of it. Each day focus on one letter of her name, then look for that same letter for the rest of the day anywhere and everywhere from signs, cereal boxes and more.  Then, go to the next letter the subsequent day and so forth.
  • Use junk mail and ask your child to find and circle all of the “T’s” on the page and so on (can be done with numbers too).
  • Make a personal poster for each letter of the alphabet that includes pictures from your child’s life where “C” could include your cat, your car and your child’s coat, etc.
  • Call out a specific letter to eat while enjoying alphabet soup…makes eating fun!



  • Sing number songs and rhymes, such as “One, two, buckle my shoe…..” or “One, little, two little, three little monkeys……”
  • Read number recognition books together.
  • Use puzzles of numbers and magnetic numbers so your child can hold and feel each number (can be done with letters too).
  • Write numbers (or letters) on Post-its and “hide” them conspicuously around the house, then have your child go on a hunt to find “only the 3s” or “only the As.”
  • Bake cookies in the shapes of numbers (or letters).


Parts of the Body

  • Sing “Head and shoulders, knees and toes…..” while pointing to each body part.
  • Play the Hokey Pokey where you “put your right arm in, you put your right arm out…..” and include each body part.
  • Play Simon Says for body parts, such as “Simon says touch your nose, wiggle your toes, shake your pinky finger……”
  • Have your child draw a person, and over time, it will go from a stick figure to a more complex person with distinct body parts.



  • Make a seasons collage using pictures from magazines and ones you’ve taken for each of the four seasons, so that when the year is complete, you’ll have four seasons posters.



  • Teach your child the “Five Senses Song” (to the tune of “Where is Thumbkin?”) that goes:

Fi-ive senses, fi’ive senses.

We have five.  We have five.

Seeing, hearing, touching,

Tasting and smelling.

We have five.  We have five.

And, when you sing each sense, point to the corresponding body part.

Sight: play “what do you see” by placing four items on the table, ask your child to look at them, then cover them up and ask him to tell you what they were, then remove one and do it again, this time asking what is missing until you’re down to one.  This builds memory as well!

Taste: have a secret tasting with your child where he is blindfolded and you place different foods in his mouth like sugar, a lemon, a pickle, etc., and have him guess what they are, all while describing how it tasted (sour, salty, sweet).

Smell: play the above taste game, but this time, instead, have your child smell each item and describe it.

Hearing: go outside and notice each sound that you hear and write it down.  You can then go home and cut out pictures of things that made the sounds (or draw them), such as a car, a boat, a skateboard, etc.

Touch: place different items in a bag or pillowcase and have your child reach in and feel them, then guess what they are, while describing its texture (scratchy, bumpy, soft, smooth).


  • Make a weather chart on a calendar where your child notes the weather on each day such as cloudy, sunny, rainy, snowy. At the end of the month you can count and compare the weather days.



  • Make time a topic whenever you’re doing anything. For instance, you can say, “The cookies will be ready in 30 minutes.  It’s 2pm now, so they will be ready at 2:30,” then show her on the clock what 30 minutes looks like, how the second hand goes around for one minute, etc.  And, have her sit and watch the 60 seconds so she’ll know what that feels like (this can also be taught during any “time outs” your child might endure!).


 Provide Your Child with a Sense of Independence

Now, that I’ve armed you with a hands-on teaching arsenal, you have everything you need to make a difference in your child’s learning and experiences with firsthand games and activities.  Usually your life doesn’t dictate an overabundance of time for you to work with your child non-stop on a daily basis.  So, what is a parent to do when you have other obligations?  That’s why parents everywhere partner with us at because we are there to fill in those in-between times with your child.

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