Hands On Learning

During my internship I tried to do lots of lessons that included hands activities. Students loved this. Often students would say to me, ” Miss K. you always make Inquiry so much fun.” I am not trying to make it sound like all my lessons were the best lessons ever planned, but most of my Inquiry lessons were hands on and had kids learning through experimentation. Our Inquiry learning times were broken into three week blocks were we would focus on one or two outcomes from one of the following subject areas: Science, Social, Health. I am going to share with you a couple of hands on activities I did during my internship that the students really enjoyed and a great deal of learning occurred.

1) The Human Body. Science has lots of opportunities to do hands on activities. The link to the Science 5  curriculum is below.


To start off the unit we (my cooperating teacher and I collaborated to create the unit) decided to do some formative assessment to see what students knew about the human body. We placed students in groups and had them make a body poster by tracing a group members body onto a large piece of paper and then labelling parts of the body. Students really enjoyed this activity. They knew the body parts such as stomach, heart, lungs, and small and large intestine. They had some difficulty identifying the diaphragm and the trachea. Here are a few pictures we took during the activity.

Human Body Poster #1



Human Body Poster #7



Human Body Posters together

Later on in the unit I thought it would be fun to learn about the human body by looking at and playing around with some real organs. No I did not bring in human organs into my grade 5 classroom, but I did however bring in pig organs. I did this because pig organs are very similar to human organs. It was a blast and the kids got to pump up the lungs with air and see the air sacks fill up when filled with air. I would advise anyone who is teaching about the human body to try it out. Here are some pictures from our day with the pig organs.

Screen shot 2014-03-09 at 2.52.00 PM

Pig Organs #1


Pig Organs #3

2) Health. In our first Health Inquiry block we learned about healthy eating. It was a good transition from our science unit about the human body and learning how to keep the human body healthy. In this unit we learned how to read food labels. We started by reading a food label as a large class. Then to practice students worked in groups where they rotated through stations of the four different food groups and they would read a variety of food labels to learn what they were eating. The students had lots of fun. Here are some pictures from our afternoon of learning.

Screen shot 2014-03-09 at 3.09.03 PM



Milk #1


Sugar #1


Sugar #2


If you have any questions about the activities I did let me know. Leave a comment about how you have used hands on learning in your classroom.



  1. Kelly,

    great post about hands-on learning. I definitely think that students benefit greatly from hands-on learning. Thanks for these ideas!

  2. Kelly,
    Thank you so much for sharing this!
    Being in elementary and not middle years, I have next to nothing for older grades. I hope you don’t mind if I save this? It sounds like fun and looks like the children enjoyed doing these activities!

    1. Save it sister. Absolutely. If you would ever like to try any of those activities in your future classroom I would love to send you some of the resources I used.


  3. Awesome Kelly! I love that you made the effort to bring real organs into your classroom, I would be way too scared to do that! I did a similar activity with grade 3’s looking at labels and seeing how much sugar there was in their favourite snacks. Another fun one that we did in health was learning about proper portion sizes using play dough!

    1. That is an excellent idea. Portion size is something that is sometimes difficult to grasp. Did you use playdough to measure out portion sizes for a variety of different food items in different food groups?

  4. Thanks for sharing- looks like you planned some great hands on activities! What did you do for your inquiry project in Social Studies? I feel as though Science is a great subject to do inquiry in- there is so much opportunity for hands on learning and student directed learning. I taught a science unit in Grade Three on Plants and students loved doing a “bean dissection.”

    1. Thank you for your comment Sam. Science is much easier to do hands on learning and Inquiry based assignments.For Social Studies I did a unit on First Nations heritage. My mom worked up North in Manitoba so she has traditional First Nations clothing items that I brought into the classroom and had a chance to try on. As a class we learned about what animal hid and fur was used to create the clothing items. Kids got to feel the items and ask questions such as “How do they make mukluks?” “How do I know what animal this brown fur came from?” etc. Social is much more difficult, but that is what I did during my internship.

    1. I actually got the pig organs from the abattoir from Drake Meats. They are very willing to give you the organs so students can learn from them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *