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The Significance of Touch: Why Hands-On Play is Important

The Significance of Touch: Why Hands-On Play is Important

Children love to get their hands on everything. They are curious about the world around them and want to touch everything their minds wonder about. And while their approach to discovering new things might make some parents worried, there is no fear! Touch is one of the most important senses for developing children because it helps children start to grasp the three-dimensional world we live in, allowing them to physically interact with objects and comprehend how things work.


With today’s busy schedules, it is easy to depend on educational electronics to help children learn, but research has shown that even with all of today’s technology, children still prefer hands-on activities. Studies not only encourage parents to buy building blocks and shape-sorting toys to help with spatial thinking skills, but also to foster hands-on play to build interaction between parent and child.

Hands-on play gives parents and children time to communicate with each other and allow children to make connections between verbal words and actions. A study found that children who engaged in block building with an adult had more opportunities to hear words like “over” and “under” and see these actions taking place. Hands-on play helps children develop spatial thinking, an important concept in mathematics and physics. 

And hands-on activities are not just for little kids. Research has found that when grade school and high school teachers have students perform mathematic word problems and science equations, students are able to come up with the correct answer faster than students reading the problem. The reason behind this is that by connecting words with actions, students make the connection between what word goes with what action and come to the correct answer. Teachers have found that giving different visual methods to a lesson is better received than giving two verbal methods. Children stay engaged with hands-on interaction because it keeps them moving and shows how much learning can be fun!

Hands-on activities can be done anywhere! Some fun and educational things parents can do to encourage hands-on play are:

Create a sensory bin: Sensory bins are a fun and affordable way for kids to learn by touch. Items like seeds, sand, and buttons can be found around the house and the bins can change to fit the child’s interest. Sensory bins help children explore with their senses, work on their math and motor skills, and help develop their language and conversation skills.

Blocks are back: Building blocks are one of the oldest toys out there, but their importance for a child’s developing mind has not changed over the centuries. They help spark a child’s interest for building and allow children to learn about gravity and height when the tower they built falls. Just because it is not the latest electronic does not mean building blocks are out of style!

Have a crafts day: Children love getting their hands dirty and crafts are a fun opportunity to interact with your child and create something beautiful! The wonderful thing about having a crafts day is that the possibilities are endless. From sunflower seed projects where you can explain how plants are grown to learning about their alphabet and what types of animals start with each letter. The ideas are endless!

Have a fun family outing at the Museum: Children love going out and exploring new environments. Children’s Museum of Illinois is a great place to go where kids can be kids and explore their interests with our fun, interactive exhibits. Children can learn while climbing, imagining, and building in our many exhibits. It’s a family outing no one would want to miss.


There are so many fun ways to incorporate hands-on activities in a child’s life. Children learn through play. So get excited and start playing!


Courtesy: Terri Purcell,

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