Did you know that the most effective way for a child to learn something new is by using their hands? Kindergarteners learn the best through movement, play, problem solving, and hands-on activities, not by completing worksheets or playing learning games on iPad apps. I'm going to share some hands-on activity ideas that you can use during your ELA centers.
What is a hands-on activity?
A hands-on activity is any activity where children are using their hands to learn. “Hands-on activities let the students' minds grow and learn based on the experiences and the environment they are exposed to. ELLs learn while discussing, investigating, creating, and discovering with other students. As the students become familiar with the subject they are learning, they begin to make decisions, requiring less teacher support and allowing more interactive learning experiences to occur (Cooperstein & Kocevar-Weidinger, 2004).”
Hands-on activities are the number one activity that I always use in my ELA centers for this very reason. Plus, hands-on activities are proven to be highly engaging, strengthen fine motor skills, and hold students attention longer than other activities. Here are some hands-on activities you can try during your ELA center rotations.
Types of hands-on activities to try
Creating a sensory bin
Sensory bins are hands down one of my favorite activities to use for a few different reasons. You can create ones that go with any different season or holiday, use a variety of tactile objects to help with sensory learning, and keep students excited about the new sensory bin.
All you need to do is add in an ELA skill and you've got a hands-on activity for your ELA center that is sure to be engaging for your students! I use a small clear bin, add some sensory bin fillers, then either picture or word cards and a jumbo tweezer that students can use to pick the cards. I usually will have a recording sheet that goes with each activity so students can write down their answers. Find it here.
You can check out my sensory bin round-ups here for more ideas with specific holidays or seasons.
Using magnets, stamps, or letter tiles to spell
Manipulatives are not just for learning math! I love using a variety of manipulatives with my students to practice spelling. Here are some of my favorite manipulatives for hands on activities for ELA centers (plus activities that go with each one).
Magnets- Magnet Match
If your students are not quite spelling independently, you can still use magnets to identify the beginning, middle, or ending sound of a word! This beginning sounds magnet match activity is perfect for beginning Kindergarten students. To play, students just look at the picture and cover with the magnet that has the same beginning sound. Find it here.
Stamps- CVC Spelling Practice
Worksheets can be hands on too! With this worksheet, students will spell the CVC word by stamping each letter. Find it here.
Magnets and dry erase markers- Build it and Write it Spelling Mats
Add some writing practice in with these spelling cards. Students will use magnets to spell the word, then write it using a dry erase marker. Find it here.
Using Play Dough to form letters
Students need to build their fine motor skills, so why not add in some fine motor practice with your hands-on learning. Simply have your students roll the play dough, as if they are making a snake. Then manipulate the “snake” to create different letters. Find it here.
Learning Games to practice working together
Games are another type of hands-on activity that are great to include in your center activity rotation! You can find these 4 games that are always a hit with my students on this blog post here.
If you are interested in the hands on activities for ELA centers that you see here, you can find most of them included in the one of the Phonics Centers Bundle below! (excludes CVC spelling mats, and CVC Spelling Stamp It worksheet)