Top Ten Hands-On Projects

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I love doing fun, hands-on projects with the kids, but, well, I’ve gotten kind of lazy about planning them this year. I guess it all goes back to that “different seasons in life” thing. Still, just because I’ve been lazy with them, doesn’t mean that you have to be.

So, to give you some inspiration, I thought I’d share my top ten favorite hands-on projects in case you missed them the first go ‘round or, like I’d do, thought about doing one or two of them and just forgot about it.

1. Salt dough maps. For years, we have enjoyed making salt dough maps.  They’re one of the best, hands-on ways to learn about geography and history.  Yes, history – often we find that battle strategies make more sense when you get a topographical feel for the lay of the land.


2. Paper Mache. It’s messy, but it’s fun. My favorite project ever – in our entire homeschooling existence – was our paper Mache Earth because it was that one project that turned out just exactly as I’d envisioned it.


I’ll also never forget the paper Mache piñata we made when we represented Mexico for our homeschool group’s Around the World Day one year.  We were afraid it wouldn’t be sturdy enough.  We finally had to put the piñata on the ground and beat it with a broom stick to get at the candy inside!

And, of course, there was our paper Mache Leaning Tower of Pisa.

3. Around the World Day.  One of the highlights of our year is our homeschool group’s annual Around the World Day.  It’s a great break from our regular studies and we always learn so much and have a great time.


4. Edible Maps.  Fun to make and no storage problems, edible maps make a great alternative to salt dough maps.

cookie map

5.  Castle Presentation Board.  Making a castle out of presentation board was a unique twist on our usual displays.  The swan cake was pretty fun, too!


6. Knight’s Swords and Shields.   Of course we needed some cool costumes to go with that cool presentation board.  It just so happened that my in-laws had picked up some great matching costumes at an after-Halloween sale.  All we needed to do was make swords and shields to go with them.


7. Egg Carton Bees.  This one was from a long time ago, but those little egg carton bees are still around somewhere.  They turned out so cute!

bee craft

8. Rain Sticks.  Josh and Megan each had to make rain sticks one of their years in music class. I loved the way these turned out! They required a little assistance from Dad, but they really did have a nice sound.

how to make a rain stick

9. Learning Center. We’ve done a lot of different types of learning centers over the years, but the preschool learning center that I made for my niece and the writing center that I made for Brianna were my two favorites.

How to Make a Portable Preschool Learning Center

10. Counting Bear Cards.  When Josh and Megan, and later my niece, were learning to count, I made counting bear number cards for them to help them learn one-to-one correspondence, numerals, and number words.

preschool math activiites

Wow!  That was a fun trip down memory lane.  I didn’t realize how very much my kids have changed since I began blogging.  I hope you have as much fun with the hands-on learning ideas as I did looking at all the pictures of my kids.

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  1. Love the projects! Especially the castle board and costumes.

    It was interesting to see a salt dough map, too, since it's coming up in something we'll be doing shortly. Nice to get an idea of how the finished project will look.

    Thanks for the post! Very interesting.

  2. Love the ideas. I really need to make a salt dough map with the kids. I am not sure how we have homeschooled for 11 years without doing that.

  3. Love these projects. Can you believe I have never made a salt-dough map? (I may have my homeschool-mom card revoked!)

  4. omg, I love all these but the edible cake and swan look soo yummy!
    Now I wish I had cake 😛 haha

  5. What a great post! Makes me think about all the great hands-on stuff I did with my oldest–but have sadly neglected with my youngest.

  6. When I first started homeschooling last year, I saw your post about salt dough maps. My daughter and I made one of the Thirteen Colonies and it was so much fun and cemented those colonies in her memory. She still can tell you what they are. I love all of your ideas. Thank you for being such a great resource!

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