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What We Perform, We Remember

Are you thinking ahead to the next school year or re-evaluating the current one? Here are a few tips and techniques to help you to include a hands–on component in your homeschool.

Just so you know, I’m not a “projects” kind of person. (I even failed arts and crafts at summer camp!) I love to read! When my boys were younger, I always read history aloud to them. We discussed what we read, made notes, and then read some more. I naturally tend toward a “book and field trip” approach. But one thing I discovered early on in homeschooling was that as much as we love reading and talking, the doing of things made a significant impact. Like the old adage goes: “What we perform, we remember.”

You can do this! Easy-peasy.

Hands on learning via Homeschool Creations
photo credit: Homeschool Creations
First, decide how much hands-on activity you can realistically do. Using a current calendar and your own schedule, figure out ahead of time what you can reasonably do in one year. Consider the following:

1. Are you planning lots of hands-on activities in a variety of subjects, like history, science, or art?

2. Which times of the year naturally work well for hands-on learning? For us, winter was a great time for more involved indoor projects, while summer was ideal for field trips, performing plays, building models, and nature studies. If you are doing both hands-on science and hands-on history you may want to alternate projects. Work on a science project one week (or month) and a history project the next week (or month).

3. Remember that smaller, less time-consuming hands-on activities are as valuable and memorable as more complicated efforts. Mapping, illustrating, making models, and acting out historic events are short, fun, and valuable.

4. Now, on your calendar, cross out dates when you know it would be difficult to complete hands-on projects. For example, the end of August and beginning of September was always very busy for us with birthdays, anniversaries, travel, school & co-op start-ups, etc. I tried to not schedule anything extra during those weeks. For you it might be canning season, spring housecleaning, Christmas, or the week of Vacation Bible School.

5. Take the ages of your children into consideration. Gear some projects older and some younger. When the little ones have an activity, train the older ones in the art of helping/teaching. By learning to help younger siblings with projects patiently, your older ones are learning valuable life skills, thus benefiting everyone in the long run.

6. By now you should have a clearer picture of how much you can reasonably do. Let’s say you’ve come up with twelve weeks in the next year when it would be feasible for you to tackle hands-on projects. Look through your upcoming studies and gather ideas from your resources that would be beneficial and appealing. Pick out your favorites, and then ask for feedback from your kids. Studying the Middle Ages? Give them choices: Would they rather make a coat of arms, build a medieval castle, make costumes, or perform a simple play? Knowing that any of those projects would suit your students’ needs allows you to safely let them choose which they’d prefer doing. Bonus: Now they have bought into the idea because they had some choice in the matter.

7. Planning ahead makes hands-on projects easier to implement. In your planner, list what materials/resources you’ll need to complete each project. Begin saving detergent bottle caps, buy craft materials on sale, collect pictures of cells or planets to build, etc. Even if you don’t know which specific projects you’re going to do for the entire year, planning and preparing for at least a few activities makes it easier to start.


Keys to Success:

A. Be realistic about available time.

B. Make a plan.

C. Follow the plan!

D. Give kids choices.

E. Small but frequent hands-on activities are effective.

F. Utilize older students’ talents.

G. Don’t obsess over the mess.

H. See A!


May God bless you and give you wisdom as you spend this time with your children.

What was your best and/or worst hands-on activity??


  1. Felice

    I absolutely *love* crafts and I’m sending this link to my dd for the grandkids! My daughter doesn’t love crafts the way I do (and her first born who loves “grandma Felice” crafts.

    BTW reading is the best thing you can do for and with your kids! I totally agree reading trumps crafts, however crafts are fun in combo with reading. Thanks for posting, Maggie!

  2. Kristen Lowery

    Great ideas Maggie.
    I know for my kids, that the books they have written and created are their favorite mementos of the school years. Sometimes when classes are getting boring and we need a change, we will just drop all the curriculum for a while and create a book. We are still getting Language, Handwriting, Spelling, Art, Math, and depending on the book’s subject, Geography, Science, and History.

    Curriculum is great but sometimes our brains need a break from the intake of information and just need time to create.


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