I have never been a crafty person.
I have never in my life put together a scrapbook. I don’t spend hours in the craft store looking at all the things and the one time I tried to sew a blanket, it quickly became something for the dog.
My children however, learn best in hands-on, over the top, super crafty ways.
When my youngest was struggling to remember the difference between a capital letter ‘I’ and a capital letter ‘H’ I tried everything in the book to help him retain the learning. One day, he would get it. Then the next, he would look at that capital ‘H’ like it was a brand new letter.
On a whim, I decided to pull out what I considered my nemesis – Play Doh. We made the different letters, noting how the lines on the top and bottom of the capital ‘I’ were shorter than those on the sides of the ‘H.’
He never mixed them up again.
That’s when I knew – no matter how much I wanted to avoid it, hands-on, crafty and messy were going to have to be a part of our learning.
Fast forward five years, and hands-on activities are a part of our homeschool at least once a week and often, once a day. I still don’t consider myself crafty, but I have made peace with the fact that this is an important part of our learning.
Having said that, I am a firm believer in knowing thyself. Anything we attempt has to be easy and not at all complicated.
Over the years, I have found a few ways that have helped me surrender to this crafty business of hands-on learning. These tips and tricks are the difference between saying we are going to do more activity based learning, and actually doing it.
Easy Hands-On Learning: 5 Tips For The Mom Who Doesn’t Do Crafts
Amazon Is Your Friend
Some women love craft stores. They can stay for hours and imagine all the possibilities. I am not one of those women.
Put me in a craft store and I feel overwhelmed and overstimulated within 2 minutes. As such, I find that ordering supplies for our activities from Amazon makes hands-on learning not only simple, but much more likely to happen. When I am considering an activity, I actually check to make sure the supplies we need are readily available online. If they’re not, I move on to another.
This may seem silly, but making this part simple, allows me to save my energy for the actual project.
Incorporate Favorite Stories
One of the challenges, as my boys get older, is figuring out what we should do. Pinterest certainly helps (in fact, I created a hands-on learning board just for this type of idea gathering). But the best place I have found to come up with relevant and age appropriate ideas is in the books my kids are reading.
Harry Potter was the one that started it. As we read through the books together, it was easy to incorporate hands-on learning to accompany the stories. Writing with quills, planting mandrakes, and creating our own model Quidditch field were all easy ways to make the story come alive with activities.
After that, we read the Percy Jackson series. Again, the books guided my activity selection and gave life to several ancient Greek and Roman activities.
When I am out of ideas, our current read aloud is always the place to start.
Outside, Always Outside
I have learned that no matter what my boys may tell me, any and all messy learning should be (for the love) done outside. It seems like a simple tip, but please trust the woman still trying to figure out how to get potters clay off of her ceilings. Outside, always outside.
Vary The Subjects
I try to find or create a hands-on activity for every subject, every month (sometimes more, sometimes less – but once a month per subject is my goal). Not only does this enrich our learning, it keeps the activities fresh and fun. Some of our favorites include:
Use The Mess
My boys are old enough now to not just help clean up, but actually clean-up. I call this life skills. Boom, one more subject covered.
Although I would prefer curling up on the couch and reading books all day, the simple fact is that my boys learn best in ways that are outside my comfort zone. But seeing them engaged and learning always makes it worth it…
Crafty or not.