An Ultimate Guide To Hands-On Learning Activities
It’s been eight weeks since I made the commitment to complete one hands-on activity with my son every week.
I share them with you here, every Friday, in the hopes that it might take some of the workload and guesswork out of your busy days.
I have heard from so many of you – you are grateful, kind and wonderful. I can’t tell you how encouraging it is for me! There are two questions that you have asked over and over, these past two months that I want to answer in this week’s post, in lieu of posting a new activity. (My son has been battling a bad stomach bug, so our activity together this week was making chicken soup with rice.)
The questions I have heard most are –
How do you come up with the ideas for a new activity every week?
How do you find the time?
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My Ultimate Guide To Hands-On Learning Activities
I thought these questions deserved some answers. In fact, I am 100% sure I have asked them of other moms in the past, and even asked them of myself, prior to taking on this year’s 52 Weeks of Activities Challenge.
It makes sense to me. If you have a child who thrives with hands-on learning, it can becoming overwhelming very, very quickly. There is no box curriculum, ready to go with a subject-by-subject activities for the year. My weekly activities may help, but they will not be anywhere near enough to meet the learning needs of a child who craves experiential, activity based learning.
How Do You Come Up With Ideas For New Activities?
The first place I start when coming up with any new learning is what my son is currently studying and interested in. When he was excited about space, we did a solar system map. When he was crazy about Latin American deadly creatures, we created our own antique map of Latin America. It narrows the field considerably and allows me to focus my search for an interesting activity.
After I have a topic in mind, I start to research.
Pinterest is an obvious choice for finding options, but the truth is, sometimes it can be a bit of a time waster. If you type in Latin America activities, you will inevitably get about 1000 ideas that are nowhere near what you are looking for. (Incidentally, this is why I created a new board on Pinterest all about hands-on learning. I keep ideas I find that are appropriate for my child there, and can reference it any time. You’re welcome to join me as well!)
The truth is, I have the best success, and am able to save the most time, by researching sites and/or books by moms that I trust to have activities that will likely work for my son. I use these resources to get my creative wheels turning.
My absolute favorite sources for inspiration are:
Colleen Kessler’s (from Raising Lifelong Learners) Books (Colleen is the real deal and has a ton of books and resources on her site)
Alicia Hutchinson at The Learning Well Community (She does all the work, in beautifully creative ways, so I don’t have to!)
Tina’s Dynamic Homeschool Plus (I am pretty sure I could just use Tina’s site to homeschool across all subjects and we would be just fine!)
Amazon and Dollar Tree (I look through the craft and education sections and sometimes see kits that inspire me to create something similar at home)
Because I want to share an activity that is new for you every week, I never just replicate an existing activity unless I give full credit where it is due and encourage you to visit the author. Most of the time, I find I am inspired by an idea or two in one of these resources and then come up with my own that better meets our needs.
This is 100% something I think you can do too! It takes very little time, once you know where to look for inspiration.
Which brings us to the second question…
How Do You Find The Time To Create These Activities?
The simple answer is, this is a priority for me. Because this helps my son learn best and gives us quality time together every week, I find it is a better use of my time than any other homeschool mom requirement. I don’t have fully flushed out lesson plans. I don’t always clean my kitchen at night after dinner. I haven’t shopped for clothes in months. And I am not sad about any of it.
This is what makes sense for my kiddo and my heart.
Making the commitment to create this every week, not just to my son, but to you as well, has allowed me to push through on the weeks when there were about a million other things I would rather do. And it has made all the difference.
It’s becoming less of a requirement, and more and more, something I look forward to each week.
Thank you so much for this opportunity. I love learning right alongside you.
Shawna Wingert is a special education teacher turned educational consultant, and mom of two brilliant boys who have learning differences and special needs.
Shawna has also written four books: Everyday Autism, Special Education at Home, Parenting Chaos, and Homeschooling Your Child With Special Needs. A passionate advocate for individualized education, Shawna is frequently featured on Today.com, Simple Homeschool, Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and The Mighty. She can also be found supporting parents online at her own site, DifferentByDesignLearning.com.