Do you know that hands-on learning is one of the most important components of your child’s formative kindergarten years? This has been affirmed by numerous early childhood education specialists around the world.
Let’s look into the world of hands-on learning and learn why it matters for a preschool-aged child. Also known as experiential learning, it is an immersive approach to education that encourages children to actively explore, discover, and manipulate materials to gain a deeper understanding of key concepts.
Topics covered include what hands-on learning is, why it is better than other forms of learning, fun hands-on activities you can try at home, as well as examples of such learning activities in a kindergarten.
What is Hands-on Learning?
What is hands-on learning all about?
Synonymous with experiential learning, hands-on learning emphasises learning by doing. All children are active and curious and learn best through physical experiences and hands-on activities.
Children enjoy actively engaging with the material by touching, moving, or doing something related to the concepts being taught. Passive learning techniques can lead to disengagement and lower retention which in turn leads to the need to drill, repeat and rote-learn.
In contrast, hands-on learning engages many parts of the child’s brain. When we touch, smell, taste, feel, hear, move, manipulate, and play, our brain connections are stimulated. These connections take place between our sensory system through neuro-pathways to the brain! They are known to be the most effective way to establish strong foundations for learning and thinking.
Examples of hands-on activities include seeing which shapes work better in baking bread, visiting a garden to learn how insects pollinate flowers, or making recycled paper out of used stationery.
A hands-on learning approach goes beyond knowledge acquisition—it fosters the development of problem-solving skills, making it an essential part of the learning process for young children.
Importance of Hands-on Learning for Preschoolers
Hands-on learning offers several advantages, making it a more effective approach for educating kindergarten-aged children.
Active engagement: Hands-on learning requires children to actively participate in activities and directly interact with the material. This involvement creates a deeper understanding and stronger connections to the subject matter compared to passive listening or reading.
Catering to diverse learning styles: Hands-on learning accommodates various learning styles. It includes visual learners, auditory learners, reading/writing learners as well as the earlier mentioned kinesthetic or tactile learners. By incorporating experiential learning, educators can create more inclusive classrooms that meet the needs of a wider range of students.
Enhanced retention: When preschoolers are actively involved in the learning process, they are more likely to remember the information. Hands-on activities create meaningful experiences that help students retain knowledge better than solely relying on lectures or textbooks.
Development of critical skills: Hands-on learning promotes the development of essential skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and collaboration. These skills are vital for academic success and future careers, making hands-on learning a valuable approach for preparing students for higher education.
Increased motivation and engagement: Hands-on activities are often more enjoyable and engaging for young children than traditional teaching methods. This increased interest and motivation can lead to a greater love for learning and a more positive attitude toward education.
Real-world connections: Experiential learning helps kindergarten students to see the relevance and applicability of the concepts they are learning. By connecting lessons to real-world situations, hands-on learning helps students understand the importance and practicality of their education.
Personalised learning: Hands-on learning activities can often be adapted to suit the individual needs and abilities of students. This personalised approach allows learners to progress at their own pace, fostering a sense of accomplishment and boosting self-confidence.
Examples of Hands on Learning Activities in Kindergarten
As you can see, hands-on learning plays a crucial role in your children’s cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. It supports their natural curiosity and helps them build essential skills, such as fine motor skills, communication, and teamwork.
But how can hands-on learning be practised at home? Here are some simple and effective ideas!!
Build with blocks
Use blocks to build a house, zoo or city!? This will naturally lead your children to count, measure, and learn about spatial relationships in geometry. It’s a great way to promote creativity, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills while having fun together.
Make stuff with play dough
With just three ingredients—flour, water, and salt—you can create an engaging activity suitable for all ages. This fun and versatile project helps develop essential pre-writing skills, such as tripod grips, as well as cutting skills using play dough scissors and plastic knives. Such a creative sensory-rich activity promotes social interaction between siblings of different ages and serves as an ideal pastime on rainy days. Indeed, the possibilities are endless!
Simple science experiments
Introduce your child to the wonders of science with easy experiments, such as mixing ingredients or observing floating and sinking objects. These hands-on experiments are fun and engaging, fostering curiosity and a love for learning.
Express creativity through art
Let your child express themselves through painting, drawing, or collaging. These art projects not only help develop fine motor skills but also enhance their understanding of colours, shapes, and textures. This is also a perfect way to introduce care and concern for the environment as you use recycled materials to reduce our negative impact on the planet.
Provide props and costumes for your child to act out different scenarios, like playing in a pretend grocery store or cooking in a pretend kitchen. This immersive, fun activity helps them practise social skills, creativity, and problem-solving. You may even want to role play “a visit to the dentist” to increase your child’s interest and comfort when going for a check up.
Have fun with games
Introduce your child to board games or card games. This is a delightful way to practise maths skills such as counting and strategizing. Games organically stimulate critical thinking and problem-solving in an enjoyable manner, allowing us to create cherished memories with friends and family.
Whip up a meal together
Get your child involved in simple cooking activities, such as measuring ingredients or following a recipe. These hands-on tasks bring maths and science to life while teaching responsibility, teamwork, and planning skills. Have fussy eaters? This is an excellent way to spark their interest in the food and nutrition they need for healthy growth!
Heartfield’s Hands-on Approach to Authentic Learning
At Heartfield Kindergarten, we believe in the power of authentic learning—an instructional approach that allows your child to explore, discuss, and meaningfully construct concepts and relationships in contexts that involve real-world problems and projects.
We do this through the following programmes and approaches:
Inquiry-based learning: Students might explore and discover maths or science concepts on their own, using hands-on materials and asking questions to guide their learning.
Collaborative learning: Students might work in small groups or pairs to complete projects or solve problems together, which helps them practise teamwork and communication skills.
Project-based learning: Students might work on longer-term projects, such as creating a book about a local landmark or researching a topic of interest to them and presenting their findings to the class.
Problem-based learning: Students might work on real-world problems, such as designing a plan to reduce waste at their school or finding ways to make their community more environmentally friendly.
Field trips: Visiting local businesses, museums, or other places in the community can provide students with real-life experiences that connect to what they are learning in the classroom.
Community service projects: Students might participate in projects that benefit our community, such as collecting food for a local food bank or items for underprivileged children.
At Heartfield, learning must be relevant to children; otherwise, it becomes meaningless. For example, students may learn about the importance of reducing paper usage, as paper comes from trees, and then embark on a tree project.
Through this approach, we integrate languages like Mandarin and English (reading, writing, speaking, and listening), numerical concepts, science experimentation, social-emotional learning, motor skills, and aesthetics.
As educators, our focus goes beyond merely planning “fun and exciting” activities because we believe children enjoy them. Instead, we prioritise putting our children and their learning at the core of our planning process. By doing so, we stimulate and inspire their learning abilities while helping them to achieve their educational goals.
This approach results in engaged, enthusiastic, and excited children coming to our kindergarten every day, fostering a vibrant learning environment.
To learn more, call us at tel: +65 6835 2354, email: info@HeartfieldKindergarten.com or visit our contact page for details.