The Importance of Hands-On Learning Fun

The Importance of Hands-On Learning Fun

Children love sensory play, messy science experiments, and hands-on activities. While it seems like children are “just playing” during this time, they are actually learning quite a bit. Hands on play activities are important for children to develop and practice many different skills.

hands on learning

In this post, Mary Catherine, author of Fun-A-Day is sharing the importance of hands-on learning and what children really do discover through different play opportunities:

Recently, my children played with a Coffee and Flower Sensory Bin. During that activity, they:

• Explored their senses
o Smell — The coffee beans gave off a unique scent, which most of the children enjoyed. A few thought it smelled “extra stinky” though.
o Sight — Looking at the different colors and shapes of the beans, the play dough, and the fake flowers
o Hearing — The beans made a fun sound as they cascaded through the children’s hands.
o Touch — Each item in the sensory bin had a different texture to it, which some of the kids commented on.
o Taste — Thank goodness they decided against eating a coffee bean. I just don’t think they would have cared for the taste!

• Worked on their math skills
o They compared sizes with the larger coffee beans and the smaller black beans.
o They discussed more and less while scooping handfuls of the beans.
o They counted as they added beans to the play dough.

• Used their fine motor skills
o Placing the beans into the play dough required the children to use their pincer grasp, which is helpful in developing the muscles required for writing.
o Kneading and playing with the play dough gave the kids a chance to strengthen the muscles in their hands.

hands on learning kids

• Discussed what they’d learned about flowers and plants
o One of the girls pointed out the flowers were fake. She then went on to talk about petals, leaves, and roots.
o In relation to her comment, another child explained that we had to use fake flowers because real flowers needed soil, water, and sunlight to grow. “The dirt is pretend dirt. It’s just not dirty enough!”

• Developed their language and conversation skills
o The kids made up a story as they played in this sensory bin. It was about an alligator who was planting flowers in his swamp. They took turns adding parts of the story.

Even better, all of this learning took place while the children were having FUN!  Children learn by exploring the world around them, asking questions, and “just playing”. Encouraging a kid’s natural curiosity helps build a foundation for life-long learning.

Mary Catherine



Hands on fun is a wonderful way for children to fall in love with learning and discovery! Get more ideas here:

Hands-On Learning Ideas

Independent Play Ideas

About the Author:

Mary Catherine is mama to a very curious 6-year old boy, teacher to a fun group of pre-kindergartners, and caregiver to a gaggle of children of all ages. She has a background in teaching kindergarten and is passionate about early literacy. Mary Catherine loves science fiction books, traveling, and messy science experiments with her son. Stop by Fun-A-Day for more learning fun, or find Mary Catherine on facebook or Pinterest. Images belong to Mary Catherine and Fun-A-Day.

4 Responses to The Importance of Hands-On Learning Fun

  1. Let me just add, seek out real-world experiences that extend your child’s learning. An example is if your child is interested in fishes and aquatic life, visit an aquarium. He or she will retain more information and develop a bigger understanding of the world if information is meaningful and presented in a way that meets his or her individual learning style.


  2. I have been a preschool teacher 32 years and owned 4 centers during that time. I always believed in hands on learning , my center was 100% hands on but when I sold my center and went to work for other schools I was shocked how many teachers pre cut and do all the work. Whose work is it anyway? It seems they are pushing academics to impress the parents and not allowing children to be children. This is so sad .Another sad thing is teachers that never got any educational experience but winging it ,they think its ok because they raised children at home ,this is so wrong because if you don’t know about growth and development how can you know the milestones and wonderful things children learn just from allowing hands on experiences and making their own choices.
    Please ask questions and observe the environment , happy fun or boring!

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