Monday, August 5, 2013

Why Hands-on Learning is Important

I think one of the fundamental keys to learning is to involve as many of the senses as possible.  However, hands-on learning is more than just adding the sense of touch to a lesson.  It's about turning a lesson into an experience.  You are more likely to remember something when you experience it.  That is why field trips are so important.  My daughter learned more about the Civil War in one afternoon at Civil War Days then she did studying about it.  Seeing President Lincoln in person was much more memorable than reading an old book.

Think about it in this context.  You probably know several recipes by heart.  Which ones do you remember the most, ones you have cooked several times or ones you have only read about? The recipes you know by heart are most likely the ones you have cooked yourself.  You have measured them out, felt them come together, smelled their aroma and tasted their flavors.

A road trip is somewhat similar.  Oh yes, we can memorize the maps and the exact route that tells us when and where to turn and still end up getting lost.  Reading about the route is simply not the same as actually driving it.  The instructions to take a certain exit means little when you are in the middle of traffic and the interstate seems to take off in a myriad of different directions all at once.

However, after you have experienced the actual trip you are more likely to remember the route better the next time.  I remember someone saying my dad was great at that.  He only had to go somewhere once and he could always remember the way back.  Traveling that route always stuck with him, but directions on a page were of little use to him.

Because experiences stick with us more than abstract facts there is no better way to enhance a child's learning then by helping them experience the lesson in some way.  That is the goal of hands-on learning.  While hands-on learning can become pretty elaborate, expensive and even messy, it doesn't have to always be that involved or complicated.  There are simple ways to make a lesson hands-on.  Taking a worksheet and adding an element of cutting and pasting or using manipulatives are enough to make a lesson memorable.

Tomorrow's topic will be Adapting Lessons to Hands-on Learning which will talk about how to take a concept, lesson or boxed curriculum and add in your own hands-on elements.  It's hard, and often expensive, to find curriculum that is already hands-on friendly, but by making a few simple changes and adjustments you can make most any curriculum hands-on and fun. 

Be sure to see what my other friends are blogging about in the Crew Blog Hop by clicking on the banner below.  There are lots of great topics being discussed!

Summer Blog Hop

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