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Seven benefits of hands-on learning

By | Hands-on learning | No Comments

maths pre-school activity learning and educational toy. Hands-on learning.

When creating the Little Wise Toys range of educational toys for 3-6 year olds, one of the important things I wanted to do was create opportunities for hands-on learning.  This is because the benefits of this type of learning from a young age are very powerful.  In this blog I will share seven ways that the hands-on approach of the Little Wise Toys activity sets (and this type of learning in general) can benefit young children.

What is hands-on learning?

Firstly, what exactly is hands-on learning?  It is a process of ‘learning by doing’, rather than simply being told about something. The term is used because it usually involves physically using the hands.

Seven benefits of hands-on learning

  1.  When children learn with both their hands and their minds they are more likely to be fully engaged in the learning process as well as more focused and motivated to learn.  This is because a child is an active participant in the activity, rather than simply being shown what to do.  This can also encourage a longer attention span which can, in turn, help children to build knowledge and increase their long-term memory.
  2. Hands-on activities also allow children to use their senses while learning. When playing with the Little Wise Toys kits children can see, touch, and move real objects to complete tasks. This means that the letters, numbers, shapes, colours, characters and so on are brought to life. In turn, this can really help children to begin to understand the meaning behind what they are doing.
  3. Because hands-on learning enables children to get involved in the learning process, it can also make it more fun. For example, children can select and use the variety of tabs in the Little Wise Box of Maths for counting, sorting and organising instead of just being taught the theory via books or pencil and paper exercises; they can bring stories to life and explore how the world works using the themed boards and characters in the collage kits; they can also get hands on using their emotions tabs while exploring and learning about emotions and feelings in the Little Wise Box of Emotions; and they can hunt out different letters and start to bring new words to life by selecting, organising and placing them on their magnetic tablet in the Little Wise Box of Phonics.
  4. Hands-on learning is great for brain development too.  This is because when activities require multiple processes such as using the hands, talking and listening, more areas of the brain are activated than with activities that involve single processes.  This can help to expand and strengthen neural connections in the brain, which is essential in the early years of life.
  5. Introducing this type of learning from a young age is also great for nurturing problem solving skills.  This is because it allows children to think on their feet as well as give them the confidence needed to solve problems.
  6. An additional benefit of ‘learning by doing’ is that it provides the opportunity for children to keep on practising until they are able to work something out.  I remember one mum who bought the Little Wise Box of Maths sharing how their daughter loved that they didn’t need to keep on rubbing things out but could just keep on playing around with the different tabs until they solved the problem.
  7. Last, but by no means least, hands-on activities are great for strengthening fine motor skills.  These are skills associated with the smaller muscles in the hands that are needed for gripping and grasping.  The very act of using the Little Wise Toys kits and picking up and placing the different magnetic tabs helps to strengthen these.  In turn, this also helps young children with additional important areas such as handling pencils, rubbers, scissors, cutlery and so on.

Here’s to all of the benefits that hands-on learning offers and making learning fun and engaging for all the wise little ones out there.

Managing anger & the new Reframing Your Thoughts Toolkit

By | Top tips | No Comments

Managing anger. Children’s emotions. Helping my child to manage their emotions

✨Managing anger…✨

A lot of the gems in the new Reframing Your Thoughts toolkit are in the small-print on the back of each card.  Here you will find a wealth of insight and practical support that children can use to help them to bring each reframe on the front of each card to life.  I’d like to share more about what is on the back of the anger card to give you an example.

The front of the anger card has the following reframe – ‘I’m feeling really angry and it’s all your fault’ vs ‘I’m feeling really angry right now. I’m going to calm myself down. Then I will think about what I can do’.  The back of the anger card starts off by letting children know that anger is actually a normal emotion that everybody feels and, when expressed in a healthy and positive way, it can provide opportunities for learning and change.  In other words, it’s not an emotion that we need to suppress or feel ashamed of.  It’s how we manage and react to it that is important.  The card then goes on to explain how different things can happen to our bodies when big emotions such as anger arise because our body is preparing itself to protect us (e.g. faster breathing to give us more oxygen and sweating to help keep the body cool).  A sense of understanding what is happening when big emotions arise can be such a big help.  With this in mind, this is also why the back of the anger card then goes on to talk about how lots of other emotions and feelings are often hidden beneath the surface of anger and how it’s worthwhile thinking about what underlying feelings might be causing the anger.  The card then explores different practical things that children can do to help them to manage their anger when it arises.  Finally, a couple of questions are then asked to help children to think about how they can apply the relevant reframe to situations that happen in their own lives, and think about how they can apply the learning.

One of the things I’m really delighted to be hearing is how the toolkit is opening up lots of conversations and offering a valuable insight into what’s going on in children’s minds. As well as helping children to think about and approach things in life in a different way.

Here’s to helping our wise little ones to open up and lay those all important foundations of social and emotional intelligence that they can benefit from for years to come. ✨🤸🏾‍♀️🌈✨

Five ways to help children to manage big emotions and feelings

By | Feelings | No Comments


On World Mental Health Day I would like to talk about some things we can communicate with children about their emotions and feelings. I will touch on a small number of areas that are explored further in the Little Wise Box of Emotions for 3-6 year olds and the Reframing Your Thoughts toolkit for 6-12 year olds.

Validation
The activity sets highlight how validating children’s feelings by offering empathy can be powerful as feeling understood can help to calm big feelings and emotions (e.g. ‘I can understand why it feels disappointing’).

Seeing another perspective
As well as validating their feelings, we can ask helpful questions to encourage children to see another viewpoint.  For example, rather than saying ‘You’ll do better next time’ or ‘It’s not a big deal’ (it probably is to them), we could say, ‘It can be disappointing when things don’t work out how you had hoped.  What do you think you might be able to do differently next time?’.

All emotions and feelings are OK
As a further example, the activity sets also talk about the importance of letting children know that it is absolutely OK to experience all sorts of different emotions and feelings (including more challenging ones).  They are not things that need to be suppressed.  Actually, trying to do this can even help challenging feelings to grow and become more overwhelming.  It is much better to learn to acknowledge big feelings and work with them to achieve a more helpful outcome.

How we react to our feelings is important
We can also let children know that it is how they react to their feelings that is important.  For example, when children act out in a way that isn’t helpful or appropriate, instead of them feeling that they are somehow bad because of how they behaved, we can offer an empathetic and constructive approach, while also setting boundaries.  For example, ‘I understand it can be frustrating when…  But it’s not OK to…  Let’s look for a better way to respond to this situation’.

Keep talking
And, of course, a key thing we can do is to open the door to conversations with children about their emotions and feelings and, in turn, help them to see that it is absolutely OK for them to talk about their emotions and feelings too.

I hope this small selection of highlights above offer some useful food for thought. ✨🌈🤸🏾‍♀️✨