It was clear, before we even began homeschooling, that my boys learn best by ‘doing.’
Hands-on activities have been an essential element of our learning for seven years now.
But, as my sons get older (now eleven and fourteen – read middle and high school, whaaaaat?) finding age appropriate, hands-on activities has become more and more difficult. In my experience, there are thousands of pins for preschool activities, and about three for middle school.
This year, I have found myself on the hunt for hands-on activities that will challenge my boys, but not require a ton of prep and planning on my part. (Keepin’ it real here – I am not a crafty mom. I do not have craft supplies all over just waiting for creativity to strike. I have Amazon.com and a little money set aside each month for hands-on learning activities that do not require me to be more crafty than I am capable.)
Finding hands-on activities requires a lot more, now that my learners are older. The good news is, the more I look, the more I am finding ways to incorporate experiential learning without a lot of work on my part.
For example, let me walk you through the science experiment we completed last week.
Please know, although I was compensated for my time in writing this post, I only share products that have genuinely worked well for my family. I share in the hopes it may help yours as well! Affiliate links are included below.
Hands-On Learning Ideas
For our hands-on project last week, we used the 4 pack Water Testing Kit for Students, Classrooms, and Science Fairs. This kit allows you to take 4 different water samples – which is great because I have two boys. I did not need a fight over who got to do what. They were each able to conduct their own experiment, twice!
The kit comes with four individually packaged tests that include easy-to-follow directions and all the supplies you need to test for levels of:
- Dissolved Solids
Hands-On Science For Older Kids
We started the activity by defining what it was we were testing for in the first place.
What is a ph level? Why does it matter?
What are Nitrates? Nitrites? Dissolved Solids?
We then formulated our parameters and a simple hypothesis for the experiment.
We believe our filtered water test will show significantly different results than our tap water tests.
At this point, my boys were chomping at the bit to get started.
They each completed a series of tests – my oldest took tap water and my youngest tested our filtered water. Then they compared their results. (Incidentally, because the kit comes with four tests, we had two tests left over. Later in the week, they decided they wanted to do the experiment again, but this time, using toilet water vs. hose water – because boys.)
The results were encouraging. Our tap water did have slightly improved levels, but not nearly as significant as we anticipated. Turns out, our tap water not only tests as safe, but is actually well below what is allowable in drinking water. (Good to know!)
This kit has everything I want and look for in a hands-on activity for my boys.
It came as a complete package and did not require any additional purchases or prep.
It was age appropriate and allowed my boys to work together..
The learning has real life applications.
Interested in trying it with your learners?
WaterTestingKits.com is offering 10% OFF ANYTHING on their website with code BACKTOSCHOOL17. (This offer expires 10/1/17)
Or enter below for your chance to win an at home water testing kit of your own!
Prizes awarded to US addresses only.
Looking for more hands-on ideas without a ton of work?
Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.