Friday, August 9, 2013

Hands-on Learning: A Whole Body Experience

Like games, exercise can be beneficial to learning even when you are not doing a lesson.  Exercise gives oxygen to the brain and stimulates brain plasticity which makes it easier to grow new neuronal connections.  In other words, physical aerobic exercise works out the brain as much as the muscles!

Whether I am teaching Gess at home or a bunch of kids at church I have noticed that if they do not seem to be engaged in the lesson taking an exercise break can help get them back on track.  It not only helps them refocus but using that energy gets the oxygen moving again and their brain just simply seems to turn back on.  So if your child is struggling with a lesson, getting frustrated, seems disengaged or even just tired, stop the lesson and take a break.  As little as 5 minutes of a physical exercise can make a big difference.

Ideas for quick breaks in class are bouncing or dribbling a ball, hula hoop, running laps, jumping rope, skipping, jumping jacks, push ups, etc. If you have several kids run a quick game that requires them to move such as a relay race or competition.  Any of these will work.

Sometimes the movement can be implemented into the learning environment making the exercise part of the hands-on experience you are trying to create.  Sitting at a desk or table for long periods is not conducive to learning.  We do simple things such as have Gess write on the board instead of in a workbook.  This way she is on her feet, not her bottom.

We physically act out words we are learning.  Here she is learning what it means to revolve and rotate.  She revolving around the chair just as the earth does around the sun.  That certainly made more sense than simply reading about it.

Finding ways to get them out from behind the desk is always a good thing.  You can go for a walk as you discuss review questions, do sit ups while you quote definitions, have games where they have to run to find the answers around the room.  One time we were learning about foundation so we simply walked outside to see the foundation on the house.  Anytime I can "show" Gess something in real life I do it, even if it means getting up and leaving the house all together.  That experience will really stick with her.

So remember that while hands-on learning is important we want to remember to get the whole body moving to optimize our learning experiences.  I have had a great time writing for this 5 Days of Hands-on Learning Blog Hop.  I hope you have found some of them helpful.  Be sure to see what other topics are covered in the Crew Blog Hop by clicking on the banner below.

Summer Blog Hop

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