4 Ways This Non-crafty Mom of 6 Makes Room for Hands-on Learning

People seem to assume that if you choose to homeschool, you must be crafty. Yes, hands-on learning can be beneficial to your children, but not all homeschool moms like to make salt dough maps, sew historical costumes, and build elaborate dioramas with their children.

I like to be creative sometimes, but I’m more likely to paint or knit than use glitter and printables. However, I want my children to be creative, so how do I provide opportunities for hands-on learning?

1. Keep the Projects Simple

For me, simplicity is vital. Day-to-day life as a homeschooling mom of six comes with plenty of non-negotiables such as cooking meals, doing laundry, and refereeing arguments. I have little time to devote to all the fun, hands-on projects my children would like to do.

If an activity requires multiple steps over several days and takes up valuable space on my kitchen counter, it’s not going to happen. We all get distracted, and it’s never completed. Why even start? That's not to mention the fact that my children's interest will wane if a project takes too long.

So I tend to look for simple, quick projects that won’t take us days to reach a satisfying conclusion:

  • drawing and coloring

  • games

  • modeling clay

  • dress up and toys

  • cooking (we have to do that anyway)

I try to think of what the children are interested in or what we might be reading about and incorporate activities centered on those themes. Also, I love anything that can be done with supplies I already have on hand.

Hands-on projects for homeschool history

2. Take it Outside the Home

Take advantage of hands-on learning opportunities in your community. What do your library, museum, and local stores offer?

Storytime at our library always includes a craft, and it’s usually of the glitter and glue kind the kids love. They also sometimes have open craft sessions where you can use all the pom poms and feathers you would like.

Homeschool days at museums often offer stations where you can try your hand at different activities. We’ve created molds with wax, communicated with Morse code, and built any number of STEM projects, just by visiting our local museums.

We even were able to attend a class presented by our local watershed agency where the girls were able to dissect decomposing logs. They used tweezers and magnifying glasses to pull out all the insects and examine the changes in the wood as it broke down.

3. Use Pre-Packaged Project Kits

4 Ways This Non-crafty Mom of 6 Makes Room for Hands-on LearningWhen you can’t face a trip to the craft store and don’t have the space to store all the excess supplies, a pre-made kit may be just what you need.

My children love getting project kits for many reasons:

  • It comes in the mail!

  • Everything they need is included.

  • There are clear directions.

  • It’s usually a far better project than mom would ever put together.

The Hands-On History: World Cultures kit from BookShark gives you nine projects to use over an entire year. Can you imagine how much shopping this would require to put together yourself?

My four-year-old and I recently assembled the car project, and the best thing is that there aren’t any extra pieces floating around my house. We got exactly what we needed for the car—no more, no less. When I attempt a project like this on my own, we always seem to end up with too much of one item and never enough of another. Having the premade kit allows you to complete a project with your child and not have the stress of a last minute craft store trip, interupting the creative flow.

4. Encourage Open-Ended Activities

When all else fails, and you don’t have the time to prepare or complete a project with your kids, don’t despair. Expressing their creativity without adult direction can be a delight.

Not every crafty thing your kids do needs to be Pinterest and Instagram ready; what matters is that they use their imagination, creativity, and problem solving skills. Sometimes mom's telling them they’re using too much glue doesn’t have the same effect as seeing their ruined project. Give your kids access to the raw materials for crafty projects (boxes, paper, glue, crayons, etc.) so they can bring their ideas to life on their own.

Make the clean-up part of the entire lesson—life skills! We hamper the joy of creating when we're frantic over avoiding or cleaning up a mess. Incorporating hands-on learning in your homeschool should not be a source of stress, and it really doesn't have to be!

About the Author

Bethany Ishee

Bethany is the mom of six always homeschooled children who one day realized she'd lost herself in the process, probably under a pile of laundry. Her eclectic style of relaxed homeschooling draws upon classical to unschooling methods and everything in between.

While homeschooling her children, teaching at a Project Based Co-op, and writing about learning outside of school, she still tries to find time to read a book, drink coffee, and pay the bills. Read more from Bethany on her site BethanyIshee.com: Real inspiration for the authentic mom.

Hands-on History: World Cultures


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