Tuesday, September 27, 2022

6 Ways to Encourage Hands-On Play With Kids

My kids are at ages now (6 and 8) where they're busy with school, activities, and play with friends instead of mom and dad. (The picture above is one of my favorites, but it's from back from E was only 3. So tiny!) When they were home more, learning through hands on play was an all day affair. Now I'm discovering that we need to be intentional and set aside time for it. Here are some of the ways I do that.

1. Take a step back. I'm going to start with this one because even as my kids get older, I still naturally feel a pull to be involved in everything they do. While I think it's important to play with them, I also remind myself when I need to take a step and let them use their imaginations without any parent intervention. It's amazing what they can do when they're fully in charge of play.

2. Give them moldable objects. Slime may have ruined my sofa (long, painful story), but the truth is it's great for great hands on, sensory based activity. Play dough and kinetic sand are as well.   

3. Give them building blocks. Whether wooden blocks or LEGOs, building blocks are incredible for encouraging kids to be creative, and they're great for tuning fine motor skills as well. Both my kids love playing with them, and have since they were toddlers.

4. Give them art and craft supplies. I literally pile a table with a random selection of art and crafts supplies, and they both just go to town. Making art or building a craft is an easy and incredibly effective way for kids to learn with their hands. My son make something - from books out of printer paper to instruments out of mac and cheese boxes - every single day, and the older it gets, the more intricate they get. It's fascinating to watch

5. Send them outside. I'm not an expert, but in my opinion, there is no better way to learn from hands on play then by just going outside. Riding a bike or scooter, playing backyard baseball, running barefoot in the grass, playing in the leaves, drawing with sidewalk chalk... It's all hands on and it all encourages learning. 

6. Make sensory bins. Even my 8 year old still loves these! I love these! The possibilities are endless too. We've filled them with everything from dry beans to autumn leaves to cereal and more. Sensory bins are especially great for toddlers, and can be the perfect introduction to hands on learning.

I hope these tips are helpful. I'll share more soon!



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