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Hands on Learning – Math

Hands on Learning – Math


Today we are featuring the wonderful blog, The Imagination Tree. The Imagination Tree has so many wonderful ideas on helping your child succeed in learning, with the emphasis on hands on learning.

We appreciate the perspective she discusses, allowing children to direct their own learning and interests through free investigations and manipulation in an enriching environment. With the importance of hands on learning, you want to encorporate as much multi-sensory, tactile opportunities as you can. Ideally the children should be able to learn through physically moving objects in creative play. This hands on learning approach needs to be have real life relations.


In her post, Anna states “Maths lends itself particularly to being discovered and understood with the hands. I remember struggling as a child with the abstract concepts that were thrown out to us in the classroom, about division, fractions and complicated sums. The numbers didn’t make any sense to me from a practical point of view- I needed to feel them and see them to understand the concepts. Children learn to count objects reliably not through rote counting, but by the physical picking up and moving of objects, consolidating 1:1 correspondence and understanding the concept of quantity as they do so. You could make a case that if,  (for some reason) you could only have one set of toys or materials for learning in an educational setting, they should be maths based.”

I don’t believe Anna was alone in this. Most children will feel that way, that most math concepts are abstract. It wont be until they are given ample opportunity to engage in hands on learning that they will be able to really understand what they are being taught.

We suggest finding items in your home that can be a part of a hands on learning math investigations area in your home. You can choose the objects, but here are a few suggestions taken from The Imagination Tree. . .

basket with numbered pegs for counting and ordering

basket of conkers/ chestnuts (replace with any natural material e.g. pebbles, leaves, flowers)

bowl of  assorted Seashells  in various colours, patterns, shapes and sizes for sorting and counting

ball of no-cook play dough

tray of wooden numbers

wooden coloured pencils and notebook

plastic food tray with lavender sensory salt for writing numbers in, counting objects into etc

pipe cleaners for threading beads onto etc

rainbow gnomes

egg carton

muffin tin

paper cake cases

empty wooden bowl

measuring tape

coloured, wooden shapes in compartmented tray (Spielgaben toys in an old Melissa and Doug toy container)

Russian nesting dolls 

weighing scales

6 jam jars filled with small materials: buttons, transparent counters, plain and coloured matchsticks, glass gems, glass pebbles threading beads, straws cut to a variety of different lengths


Thanks again The Imagination Tree!

There are so many possibilities here, and the hands on learning math investigation area will entertain your children for a long time because of all the options they have in front of them! No screen time required.


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