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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp
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Copyright 2006 Julie Shepherd Knapp.  All rights reserved.
about the book
The Homeschool Diner's Guide to
Hands-on Learning for Homeschoolers

by Julie Shepherd Knapp, copyright 2006

Children who enjoy a hands-on approach to learning prefer to be active
participants in their lessons.  They are not passive learners who are
content to listen to lectures, watch films, or read textbooks.  The challenge
for homeschooling parents is to find hands-on experiences that can
actually take the place of textbooks, workbooks, and lectures.  

For example, hands-on learning needs to be more than just "doing" a lab
experiment. The activity needs to be an engaging, in-depth investigation
of the objects, materials, phenomena, and ideas where the child (with help
from his parent) can draw meaning and understanding from the
experience.  In this way, a high-quality hands-on experience actually
replaces "passive" classroom learning.  Even with a pre-packaged kit,
parents may need to supplement an activity or do some outside reading
so that they can tie concepts together for their student.  

Hands-on learning leads to a better understanding of concepts and
relationships, and provides the student with a knowledge base that helps
give meaning to "facts".   Questions that arise during hands-on activities
can even lead to deeper exploration of a topic, or investigations into a
new related topic.   

Science, math, and the arts are naturally very hands-on topics.  Social
studies can be made more hands-on by incorporating crafts, map
exercises, puzzles, time-lines, field trips, dress-up and re-enactment, and
cooking.  Language arts can incorporate games, grammar manipulatives,
dramatic readings, dress-up, plays, scrap-booking, and creative

Hands-on Learning can be used to enrich any homeschooling method.  It
is a wonderful choice for homeschooling high-energy students, creative
students, visual-spatial learners, students who struggle with reading,
writing and/or attention, and reluctant learners (because hands-on
activities often don't really "feel" like school).     

Listed below are some suggestions for resources for instructional
approaches and kinesthetic learning techniques.  There are also
suppliers of manipulatives, experiments, activity kits, games, etc.  Unit
Studies often incorporate hands-on activities, so check out the "
" section for more ideas.

Montessori Method - an educational approach developed by Dr. Maria
Montessori in 1870, based on observations that children learn naturally
when in a "properly prepared environment" that is designed to promote
independent learning and exploration by the child, emphasizes hands-on
activities, the extensive use of concept-specific manipulatives, and
learning thru real-world "work", children are placed in small multi-age
groups, children often work on activities of their own choosing and are
allowed to work at their own pace, fosters self-discipline and co-operative

Maria Montessori's philosophy and methods are presnted in
"The Clio
Montessori Series",  a collection of lectures and essays written by
Maria Montessori and published by ABC-Clio, Ltd..  These books address
the Montessori approach to education from birth thru adolescence

The text of the English translation of "
The Montessori Method" by
Maria Montessori is available free online

Montessori Homeschooling - information and support groups

Montessori Educational Products - guidance from birth to age 12

Montessori Concepts - affordable Montessori products for homeschools

Waldorf Philosophy - first formulated by Austrian Rudolf Steiner in
1907 in his short book, "
The Education of the Child in the Light of
Spiritual Science
", learning is based on prescribed developmental
stages, with formal education being delayed until age 7,  lecture-based
experiential learning, a subject is introduced through experiences, then
children are guided to explore a subject, then the concept discussed.
Emphasis on arts and crafts, music and movement, natural science,
spirituality, and social skill.  Children journal their experiences, thoughts,
and conclusions, including daily drawing and painting.

Waldorf in the Home - a website and annual conference

Oak Meadow - PreK - 12 Waldorf inspired curriculum

Live Education! - K - 8 Waldorf curriculum modified for home use -

Some online resources:

Edventures Online - combines online tutorials with hands-on
project-based learning for interdisciplinary problem solving and critical
thinking, online subscription required

Lap Books -- a crafty 3-D way to display facts and artwork about any
subject a child has learned or to display  an integrated unit study,  some
examples can be seen at
Scrapbooking to Learn, Peakmore
Academy, Chavez Creative Publishing, Templates by Donovan has
directions for various envelopes and folding elements, instructional books
and supplies can be found at
Tobin's Lab, there is also a Lapbooking
Yahoo Group,

Enchanted Learning -- lots of free printables such as coloring sheets,
map outlines, and printable books, subscription optional

"All About..." Series by Evan-Moor  - (preK - 1) a collection of thematic
cross-curricular science units, includes lesson plan, a story with story
board and pieces, and suggested activities

Bright Ideas for the Gifted and Talented (a.w.peller & associates) -
educational games, workbooks, and hands-on activity kits - a collection of kits and activities, mostly by
LEGO and Pitsco, for hands-on teaching of math and science

Kids Activities -- a Yahoo! group where parents share ideas for
projects, crafts, and other educational hands-on activities -- search for camps by type,  location, and a wide
variety of hands-on explorations in different subject areas

Bare Books -- Treehouse Publishing offers blank books, puzzles, game
boards, and comic books to make your own fun or educational materials

Paper Plate Education -- illuminate your ideas on a paper plate

ETA/Cuisenaire -- educational products for science, math, reading, and

Learning Resources -- K - 6 manipulatives, board games, and activity
kits for reading, spelling, math, and science

Discovery Channel Store -- check their "Toys and Games" section for
hands-on kits and educational toys

Oriental Trading Company -- source for inexpensive supplies for crafts
and other activities

Education Outside the Box -- a Yahoo! group to encourage teens and
families to become entrepreneurs, share tips and strategies

Hands-On Science and Technology - because none of the major
homeschool approaches focus on science and technology - you will need
to seek out hands-on educational opportunities that meet your child's
interests.  Check with your local science and technology museums - many
offer homeschool classes and most offer Saturday and summer
programs.   Homeschool co-ops sometimes offer (or would be willing to
organize) hands-on science and technology classes and even science

State-sponsored 4-H clubs offer guidance and instruction for science and
technology projects.  Seek out  local mentors, retired teachers, or other
volunteers who can help you guide your child's projects and encourage
their interests.  Older children may be able to take vocational classes thru
their local high school or a technical college (regulations vary by state and
school district - check with your local schools).  Some science and
technology classes are available thru distance learning programs.  

Large book stores (such as Borders and Barnes and Nobel) have how-to
books for science and technology.  Some textbook and homeschool
curriculum publishers have resources for computer programming,
robotics, and lab sciences - do a Google search to find your options.  
Also, visit the "Homeschooling by Subject" section for more ideas.  

Hands-On Experiences in the Arts:
Check with your local arts museum, orchestra, ballet, children's theater,
and private arts schools to see if they offer homeschool classes, private
and group instruction, Saturday programs, and summer camps.  
Homeschool co-ops usually offer (or would be willing to organize) art,
music, dance, and drama classes.  Many metropolitan areas have
homeschool band, orchestra, and ensemble organizations.  City parks
and recreation departments, community centers, colleges, and the YMCA
offer children's summer programs in the arts.  

Seek out private instruction, retired teachers, and local mentors (including
older homeschooled children) who are willing to help you encourage and
foster your child's interests.  State sponsored 4-H clubs provide many
opportunities for children to participate and compete in visual arts, music,
drama, and dramatic reading.

Public libraries and bookstores have a wide selection of books for visual
art and craft projects (check both the arts section and the education
section).  There are many online resources for visual arts and crafts, too -
do a Google search to find your options.  Also, check the "Homeschooling
by Subject" section for more ideas.
"Tell me....and I forget,  teach me.....and I learn,  but involve me.....
and I remember."  -- Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790)

"Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; [when] the doing is
of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.
-- John Dewey

"We learn by example and by direct experience because there are
real limits to the adequacy of verbal instruction."
-- Malcolm Gladwell, "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking", 2005