Hands-On! Learning Materials for Tactile and Visual Learners

Check out these awesome tools and games that engage kids in active learning.

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USB Digital Microscope

I wanted to get a microscope for my kids, and I was blown away by this one. Easy to set up and use. You just plug it into your computer and start pointing at things. 250x magnification is pretty significant: clothes, bugs, skin, hair all look very different at that magnification. (Just don’t let your 2-year-old see how close it can get to a banana . . . not very easy to clean out.)

Snap Circuits Jr.

Snap Circuits is popular for good reason. This is an awesome, hands-on way to learn about electricity, and it’s safe enough that my preschooler can tinker too. Comes with a book of projects to follow, or you can design your own circuit. More advanced kits are also available, but this one is a great place to start.

Math Balance

This balance offers a cool way to visualize math concepts, from easy addition to division and even “find the missing number” algebra-type problems.The kids enjoy placing the chips on the pegs and figuring out how the number values relate to each other.

Robot Turtles

While this won’t teach your kids to be programming geniuses, it does teach basic programming concepts in a fun way. It’s also really cool how the kids get to “boss around” the grownups. We’ve had this for a few years, and the kids still like it.

Transparent Rainbow Colored Geoboards

Geoboards are a classic tool for experimenting with shapes, angles, patterns, and designs. You can hand a kid one of these and a pile of rubber bands, and you might be surprised how long they spend arranging the bands in various ways.

Handheld “Math Whiz” Quiz Game

This little machine quizzes kids on addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. You can start with simple questions like 1+1, and move up through the eight skill levels. It’s small and sturdy and great to take in the car. Kids feel like they are playing a game…because they are!

8 Inch Desktop World Globe

A handy globe is a great resource to have in a homeschooling environment. This one is relatively small, so it’s easy to grab and pull into any number of conversations, like when a place is mentioned in the news, or you’re learning about a country or weather patterns or ecosystems.

Geometry Set

This is a fun set of stick and ball pieces that can be built into 2D and 3D shapes. You can follow the diagrams, or come up with original structures.

Letters Magnet Board

A fun way to practice writing letters – using a magnetic pen to pull the magnetic beads into position. Even very young learners can enjoy this!

Sight Word Bingo

Excellent practice for reading sight words. This is a classroom set that comes with enough cards for 36 players. Level 2 is also available.

Mindful Games

These activity cards are really easy to use – simple and effective, step by step directions. Some activities are geared toward young kids, or older kids, but many are good for all ages. Activities vary in length. Examples include “counting breaths” and “one bite at a time.”

History Timeline

The history of civilization on one poster? Well, it may not have everything, but this packs in a ton of information, and clearly shows which events/eras coincide with others.

Pattern Blocks (Tangrams)

Pattern blocks are just great for learning shapes, recognizing and making patterns, and being creative.


Explore the properties of light with these simple triangular prisms. If held up to sunlight, these make beautiful rainbows.

Science Ninjas: Valence

This game is so cool. It teaches kids – even 5 year olds – about elements combining to form molecules, and how the charges balance, and how different kinds of molecules have different properties. You can play a simplified version by laying out the different element cards and working together to build molecules.

Instant Amazing Snow

Besides being super fun to play with, instant “snow” powder is a cool way to learn about polymers!

Tree of Life Poster

This diagram of the interconnection of species is a work of art! Kids love looking at it.

Tiny Polka Dot

This little box contains a set of cards that have dots…just dots…on them. But there are so many math games that you can play with…just dots! Games range in difficulty, so almost everyone can play something.

World Map Puzzle

This 60 piece puzzle is a fun and not-too-time-consuming way to review world geography.

Cooperative Games

Cooperative games, like those made by the Peaceable Kingdom company, are awesome because they encourage teamwork, and everyone wins together or loses together. Race to the Treasure, in particular, also introduces the use of coordinates (e.g. A5, D2, etc).

Monthly Calendar Pocket Chart

This is a great way to teach kids about days of the week, months, seasons, and holidays.

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