Children learn through various methods such as formal classroom teaching and online education. With the advent of hi-tech innovations, children have become highly exposed to digital or online learning. It’s now easy to search for information, read materials, and watch videos using the internet.
While online learning can be helpful, it’s equally important to teach children real-life education by allowing them to do and experience things themselves but with the guidance of parents and educators. Experiential learning starts in the family, and parents can find and turn to educational establishments such as White Pine Charter School that prioritize experiential learning for children.
But as a parent, how can you introduce experiential learning to your children? In this article, you’ll learn some helpful ways to create environments for that very purpose.
What Is Experiential Learning?
Learning through experience or experiential learning isn’t a new concept. John Dewey, Carl Rogers, and David Kolb, notable educational psychologists, proposed learning theories focusing on ‘learning by doing’ or ‘learning through experience.’
John Dewey popularized experiential education, which involved critical thinking and problem-solving instead of rote learning and memorization. On the other hand, Carl Rogers coined ‘meaningless’ cognitive learning, but he considered experiential learning ‘significant.’
David Kolb noted the importance of concrete learning experiences to meaningful learning. He is famous for the learning style inventory (LSI), today’s widely used learning concept in many disciplines that determines various ways of learning.
What Are The Advantages Of Experiential Learning?
Experiential learning provides many benefits to children, such as the following:
- Real-Time Application Of Knowledge: Students can apply the things they’re learning to a real-world setting, which helps them retain relevant information better.
- Promotes Teamwork: Experiential learning involves collaborating with others or working in a team. Parents can teach their children to practice teamwork with siblings and friends by introducing them to different experiential learning activities. The same is true in the classroom when supervised by a teacher.
- Boosts Motivation: Children show more interest if they get to see and experience things for themselves. They tend to be more motivated learning through experience or in experiential settings. What’s more, they tend to show more passion for learning when you incorporate play and fun activities.
- Promotes Self-Reflection: Children spend time reflecting about their experiences and learning in experiential settings, which is also valuable in information retention.
- Real-World Practice: Children can greatly benefit from experiential learning since it prepares them for the real world. It’s focused on making children learn from real-life situations so they know what to expect in the future.
Ways To Create Experiential Learning Environments
Below are some tips on developing experiential learning environments for your little ones.
- Introduce Play Learning Activities
Playtime can be a great experiential learning activity for children, and parents have many good reasons to play with their children. For one, free and guided play enables children to learn math, spatial, and language skills. In formal schooling or a classroom setup, playing is a valuable tool that educators use to connect with, engage, and introduce new concepts to children.
The following play activities can be carried out for experiential learning:
- Scavenger Hunts
Scavenger hunts are a great experiential learning activity to get children to move, listen, and think. When children solve clues and riddles, they should work together to get to the next level.
A scavenger hunt can be indoors or outdoors. You can give your kids a list of items to find—such as toys, household items, and color-coded objects—and bring back to you. Provide them with a bucket or a bag where they can put the items in. For older children, you can set a timer to know how fast they can find the hidden objects.
A nature or outdoor hunt is a great learning activity for children and one way to bring them closer to the environment, too. Ask your children to pinpoint specific things around them such as something beautiful (like flowers) or something tall (like trees). You can ask them to find certain objects such as colorful leaves or smooth stones and place them inside their bag or bucket.
- Role-Playing Activity
Presenting a play or doing a role-playing activity can help children develop a sense of leadership and cooperation as well as their creativity. You can use a premade script, a picture book, or children’s stories as a focal point for the activity. Theater can be a fun hands-on experience because many children love to show off their acting skills.
- Introduce Science Experiments And Activities
Science involves discovery, increasing the curious minds of young children. Hence, science experiments and activities are great ways to teach kids about living and non-living things, the ecologic cycle, and other similar topics.
Here are a few science-related ideas you can have your children try for experiential learning:
- Observing Two Environments
Observation can be an easy experiential learning activity you can include in science lessons such as the way plants grow. You can ask your children to plant seeds inside and outside the classroom. Then, tell them to observe, write down, or record a video of the differences of growing seeds indoors and outdoors.
Children can use a magnifying glass or digital microscope for observing tiny creatures or objects. Some microscope models have adjustable LED lights to make discovery more exciting. You can buy a magnifying glass or digital microscope online or from a physical science supply store.
- Apple Rotting Experiment
The apple rotting experiment shows children how an apple decays depending on the environment. With this, kids can have a hands-on experience that will involve answering scientific questions. To do this experiment, place an apple each in different cups. Mark or label the cups based on the solution in them like oil, water, and vinegar.
Ask your children to write or draw pictures of their predictions and observations. You can also ask them to try the experiment with carrots or oranges. In this way, they can compare the differences between the food items.
- Other Science Experiments
The are many science experiments you can introduce to your children for experiential learning such as making a volcano using acids (vinegar) and bases (baking soda slurry). Another is creating a lava lamp using fizzing tablets and vegetable oil.
- Give Them Engineering Projects
Building things is appealing for many children. They love to create using their hands and materials they see around them. So an engineering project can be a perfect experiential learning activity.
Take a look at the following engineering projects you can let your children accomplish:
- Build The Tallest Tower
You can use this basic engineering project as a brain break activity. Give children marshmallows and toothpicks for them to build a tower, and time the competition to encourage cooperation and quick thinking.
- Make A Replica
Children can produce an architectural replica of a man-made landmark (such as the Statue of Liberty) using recyclable materials like straws and plastic bottles.
- Create A Flag
Children can use toy bricks to create a flag, which is a great combination of geography, history, and engineering. You can also ask them to create a flag using any available tools and supplies they see inside the room or outdoors.
- Art Projects
Art projects provide a fun hands-on learning experience to children involving colors, textures, shapes, and other art concepts. Children get to come up with up art pieces that spark their creativity and resourcefulness. With art projects, you can enhance their skills in designing, building, and even critical thinking.
Choose any or all of the following art projects for experiential learning:
Painting enables people, including children, to express their thoughts and emotions. Kids can use it as a way to communicate with their loved ones and other individuals they encounter every day. This is especially true for children with learning difficulties.
Basic carpentry, sculpture, and other types of woodwork can be ideal art activities for experiential learning. Parents and teachers can use woodwork activities to hone the creative skills of young students who are interested in this particular craft.
Drawing is a basic art activity that children can do to learn things about themselves and the environment. They usually draw people, animals, and anything that sparks their interest.
- Field Trips
These serve as fantastic experiential learning activities for children. Many schools organize field trips because they allow for close encounters with nature and animals and other real-life experiences.
Parents can take their children for a family field trip to contribute to their knowledge and enhance their skills. A family vacation can be an exciting experiential learning activity for everyone that children will carry and treasure until they become adults. It also lets parents and children bond, discover new things, and have fun together.
Below are several of the best places for a field trip:
Children should visit the zoo because it’s the perfect place to see, learn about, and possibly interact with different types of animals. Taking your children there provides them with a real-life experience with animals beyond what they usually see in photos and videos.
- Amusement Park
Amusement parks aren’t just for entertainment—they’re also suitable for experiential learning. An amusement park features different attractions like games, shows, and rides. One type is a theme park that bases its attractions and structure around a central theme.
In amusement parks, children can learn and test physics concepts. For instance, they can determine the speed of rollercoasters via self-guided activities.
- Summer Camp
Summer camps provide children with unforgettable experiences. According to trusted sources, such camps bridge the gaps in the current education system, teaching values of teamwork, concern for others, and self-esteem. A camp experience allows kids to thrive by developing life skills through adventures, aquatics, and athletics.
Let your children discover the art and science of seeing possibilities. Learning in a camp doesn’t involve grades. It’s all about experiencing the realities of life in a supervised and secure environment.
Teach your children about history, arts, science, and archaeology by visiting museums with them. There are many benefits of doing so for children such as getting access to excellent sources of knowledge and developing civic awareness. In addition, museums spark curiosity, provoke one’s imagination, and boost listening skills.
Museums introduce children to unknown worlds and provide valuable learning opportunities. Aside from supporting academic education, museums can help broaden the horizons, skills, and wisdom of children in all aspects of life.
A Quick Guide In Making The Most Of Experiential Learning Environments
Experiential learning allows for discovery and even provides invention opportunities for children. Parents and educators can maximize the effectiveness of experiential learning environments by following these steps:
- Assess The Interests Of Children
Determine what kids want to do based on their interests by having them answer some questions or write down what they enjoy or are curious about.
- Choose An Activity
Once you’re aware of the children’s interests, you can then choose an appropriate experiential learning activity for them. You have to consider the children’s age range and location as well as the resources available to them when selecting an activity.
- Demonstrate The Activity
Parents, caregivers, and educators have to show how the activity should be done before asking children do it. You need to make sure that they understand the rules for proper execution. Setting mild consequences for not obeying the rules can help instill a sense of responsibility and accountability in their young minds.
- Check The Results
After each activity, it’s important to look into the results or the outcome. While experiential learning activities generally don’t include grades, it’s crucial to show children what they’ve done right or their strengths and opportunities for learning. Ask them to evaluate their own work or invention and to give their insights about their output and experiences.
Children can gain a deeper level of understanding by doing what they see or going through experiential learning. Science experiments, engineering projects, and playtime are just some of the many activities you can introduce to kids to help them get to know the world and learn from it. Nurture your children’s minds by showing them what’s happening around them and ultimately encouraging them to take a break from the virtual world.