11 Active Learning Activity Ideas for Kids


Discover the ultimate collection of active learning activity ideas for kids! Engage, inspire, and make learning fun with these creative suggestions.

Active learning is crucial for children’s development and academic success. Unlike traditional passive learning where kids sit and listen to lectures, active learning engages them in hands-on, minds-on experiences that enhance understanding and retention.

Key Takeaways
Active learning engages kids in hands-on discovery, enhancing development.
Science experiments teach critical thinking, observation, and analytical skills.
Outdoor scavenger hunts boost physical activity and observational skills.
Arts and crafts encourage creativity, fine motor skills, and self-expression.
Math games make building numerical skills fun through interactive play.
Storytelling promotes language, imagination, and emotional processing.
Role-playing builds communication skills and confidence.
Music and movement improve coordination, focus, and cognitive performance.
Gardening connects kids to science and nutrition through tangible planting experiences.
Educational board games teach teamwork, problem-solving, and academic concepts through structured play.
Puzzles support critical thinking, spatial reasoning, and perseverance.
Building with blocks develops planning, motor skills, and STEM abilities.
Cooking teaches mathematical, scientific, and vital real-life kitchen skills.
Incorporating a variety of active learning activities promotes comprehensive childhood development.

As kids participate in engaging activities, they develop critical thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving skills. Active learning also boosts motivation, creativity, and confidence in the classroom.

Incorporating active learning activities into children’s routines, whether at home or in school, has many benefits. These activities allow kids to learn through play, movement, exploration, and creation. They promote curiosity, imagination, and a love for discovery.

Active learning also caters to different learning styles like visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Ultimately, it makes the learning process more meaningful and enjoyable for kids.

Earlier, we published an article about “15 Active Learning Activities for Adults“. This article will introduce parents and teachers to 11 active learning activity ideas for kids. Ranging from science experiments to art projects, math games to storytelling, these activities will engage New York students of all ages.

The hands-on experiences will reinforce academic concepts while also fostering social-emotional growth. Parents and educators will find practical tips and guidance for setting up these learning activities at home or in the classroom. Promoting active learning is an effective way to nurture children’s overall development.

Top 11 Active Learning Activity Ideas

Below are the top 11 active learning activity ideas for kids. If you have more to add, you can leave them in the comment section and we will reply as early as possible.

1: Science Experiments

Active learning activity ideas for kids - Science Experiments

Science experiments are an excellent way to promote active learning, as kids can engage in hands-on investigations to understand scientific concepts. Simple, safe experiments using household items allow children to observe, hypothesize, test, and draw conclusions.

For young kids, activities like mixing colors, making oobleck (cornstarch and water), or creating lava lamps with oil, water, and food coloring inspire curiosity about materials and their properties. Older children can explore more advanced concepts like chemical reactions, physics, and biology through activities like building electromagnets, testing pH levels, or growing crystals.

The key is choosing age-appropriate experiments that spark imagination and critical thinking. Let kids take the lead in designing their experiments as much as possible. Emphasize the process of discovery rather than just the result. Science experiments teach valuable skills like observing, measuring, analyzing data, and problem-solving in an engaging hands-on manner.

2: Outdoor Scavenger Hunts

Outdoor scavenger hunts are a fun way to engage kids in active learning outside the classroom. The fresh air and movement involved in an outdoor hunt provide a boost to their physical and mental well-being.

Scavenger hunts also enhance children’s observation skills as they search for items on their lists. Creating customized hunts around themes like nature, science, math, or spelling allows you to reinforce academic concepts. For example, have kids search for shapes and patterns, specific plants or rocks, things that represent letters, or objects that demonstrate properties like magnetic or waterproof.

Adapt the difficulty level based on age – younger kids can hunt for easier items like leaves, flowers, pinecones, and insects, while older kids can take on more advanced tasks. Make the experience collaborative by having them work in teams. Outdoor scavenger hunts combine physical activity with engaging academic challenges.

3: Creative Arts and Crafts

Creative arts and crafts activities allow children to express themselves while stimulating their imaginations and building useful skills. Arts and crafts promote fine motor development as kids use their hands to manipulate tools and materials. Letting them experiment with different art forms also encourages creativity, self-confidence, and problem-solving abilities.

Young children can start with simple crafts like fingerpainting, play dough sculptures, or coloring drawings. As they grow older, introduce more complex mediums like watercolors, acrylic paints, clay modeling, sewing, collage making, and woodworking. Ensure close supervision of advanced tools and materials.

Let kids take the lead on their projects rather than following strict instructions. Arts and crafts give them an outlet to process emotions, practice self-discipline, and work through challenges. Displaying their finished work builds a sense of accomplishment. Whether it’s vision boards, nature dioramas, painted portraits, or handmade jewelry, kids will have fun developing their talents.

4: Math Games

Active learning activity ideas for kids - 4 Math Games

Math games allow children to build their numerical skills and understanding of mathematical concepts in an engaging, interactive way. Kids often view math as boring or difficult when limited to textbooks and worksheets. Math games inject fun into the learning process through friendly competition, hands-on activities, and positive reinforcement.

For younger kids, simple board and card games that use counting, numerical order, and shape recognition help cement early math skills. Older children can play more complex math games that involve operations like addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, or decimals. Adapt classic games by incorporating math facts or modifying rules to include math challenges. Useful props include dice, dominoes, playing cards, bean bags, and shapes.

Educators can also introduce popular online math game platforms for supplementary practice. The competitive and rewarding aspects of math games boost motivation and confidence. By experiencing math in an enjoyable context, kids develop greater enthusiasm for numbers and logical thinking. Interactive math games turn learning into play.

5: Storytelling and Role-Playing

Storytelling and role-playing are creative ways to promote active learning in children through language development and social interaction. Sharing stories aloud boosts listening skills, vocabulary, comprehension, and imagination in kids. Role-playing builds communication abilities as children engage in dramatization and improvisation.

Read stories expressively, using voices and props to bring characters to life. Have kids re-tell or make up their own stories to reinforce narrative structure and sequencing skills. Turn stories into plays by assigning different roles and guiding improvised enactment. Supply costumes and props to embody characters. Role-playing in imaginary situations also helps kids process emotions and develop empathy.

Such language-based, collaborative activities allow children to use their voices and bodies to bring learning to life. Storytelling taps into creativity and self-expression, while role-play builds confidence and oral fluency. Immersing kids in the world of make-believe through active, dramatic experiences engages both their minds and bodies in the joy of learning.

6: Music and Movement


Incorporating music, dance, and physical games into learning engages kids’ minds and bodies in a fun, stimulating way. Movement and music activities support both physical and intellectual development in children.

Dancing to songs helps develop gross motor skills, rhythm, and coordination. Let kids express themselves creatively through movement. Add music during everyday tasks like clean-up time to make it more active and enjoyable. Use percussion instruments like drums and tambourines to explore beats, tempos, and melodies.

For gross motor development, play movement games that involve concepts like fast/slow, high/low, forward/backward. Obstacle courses, follow the leader, freeze dance and musical chairs are great active games. Plyometrics like jumping, hopping, and skipping are energy-releasing physical challenges.

The combination of learning concepts with the release of energy makes music and movement highly engaging for kids’ bodies and minds.

7: Gardening Projects

Gardening Projects

Gardening is a multidimensional active learning activity that engages children in science, nutrition, environmental awareness, and physical movement. Tending garden beds or container gardens teaches kids about botany, ecology, healthy eating, and sustainability through hands-on experience.

Have kids participate in garden planning, planting, nurturing, and harvesting. They can grow flowers, fruits, vegetables, or herbs in outdoor or indoor spaces. Let them get their hands dirty digging, weeding, watering, and caring for their plants. Supervise the use of gardening tools. Gardening builds knowledge of plant biology, nutrition, and life cycles tangibly.

The physical tasks involved in gardening provide movement-based learning and improve fine and gross motor skills. Achieving the reward of homegrown food boosts a sense of responsibility and self-esteem. Gardening is therapeutic and teaches patience. Getting kids actively involved in gardening has developmental benefits beyond just academic concepts.

8: Educational Board Games

Board games present a fun, interactive way for kids to gain exposure to academic subjects while actively engaged in play. When educational concepts are seamlessly integrated into the game structure and components, learning happens organically. Kids build knowledge and skills without feeling like they are doing tedious schoolwork.

Look for board games that focus on subject areas your child needs strengthening in, like reading, writing, math, science, history, or geography. For example, Outfoxed reinforces deductive reasoning, Zoo-ography teaches animal facts, and Equate develops algebraic thinking. Adapt classic games by creating themed decks reflecting current classroom lessons.

Playing board games teaches vital life skills like communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and perseverance. Allowing kids to make choices, problem-solve, and work toward goals through gameplay promotes engagement and self-directed learning. Educational board games make retaining and applying knowledge enjoyable.

9: Puzzle Challenges

Puzzles are an entertaining, screen-free way to activate young minds through hands-on critical thinking and problem-solving. Physical puzzles like jigsaw puzzles, logic mazes, and Rubik’s cubes exercise visual-spatial skills, cognitive flexibility, working memory, and perseverance.

Begin young kids with simple wooden shapes, animal or alphabet puzzles with knobs for easy grasping and manipulation. As their skills improve, introduce more interlocking pieces, 3D puzzles, sliding block puzzles, or sudoku grids. Optimal frustration levels allow for manageable challenges.

You can also incorporate puzzles into teaching academic concepts like spelling, math, history, or science by customizing images and content. Puzzles flex mental muscles and generate a sense of accomplishment upon completion. They are an absorbing solo activity that teaches grit and self-directed learning. Puzzle play activates the mind through fun challenges.

These techniques in combination with the ones in an earlier article we wrote titled “Top 11 Active Learning Strategies for High Retention” will help make every kid’s educational life easier.

10: Building with Blocks

Active learning activity ideas for kids - Building blocks

Providing children with simple building blocks like Lego, wooden blocks, Magnetiles or Lincoln Logs promotes creativity, spatial reasoning, and fine motor skills through constructive play. The hands-on, minds-on engagement of imagining and building structures boosts problem-solving abilities.

Start young kids off with large, basic blocks in bright colors to stack and assemble. As they gain dexterity, introduce more complex blocks and small accessories to enhance the intricate building. Allow them to construct freely using their ideas or provide structured projects to replicate. Building side-by-side facilitates collaborative teamwork.

Add dramatic play elements like toy figurines and signs to set up imaginative scenes and stories. Independent building cultivates planning, sequencing, and motor skills. Block construction play enables kids to develop focus, self-regulation, and a sense of mastery. It lays the foundation for STEM learning in a tactile, multisensory way.

11: Cooking and Nutrition

Cooking is a marvelous active learning activity that engages a multitude of skills – math and science concepts, fine motor development, literacy, and creative thinking. Food preparation provides kids with hands-on learning about kitchen safety, nutrition, chemistry, measurement, and following step-by-step directions.

Have children help with age-appropriate cooking tasks – mixing, measuring, chopping, baking. Supervise closely, especially with hot surfaces. Discuss nutrition, math conversions, food groups, and cultural influences. Growing ingredients in a garden further connects nature to food origins.

Let kids decorate customized snacks to encourage artistic creativity and the use of food colors. Cookbooks for children can provide healthy recipes and science experiments. Cooking together builds confidence and life skills. The pride of preparing yummy dishes makes kids excited to expand their culinary horizons. Kitchen learning is delicious.


Active learning is a crucial way for children to fully engage with academic material while developing important life skills. The 11 activities covered in this article stimulate growing minds and bodies through hands-on experiences that make learning enjoyable and effective.

Science experiments nurture curiosity and critical thinking. Outdoor scavenger hunts boost observational skills. Arts and crafts encourage creativity and self-expression. Math games build numerical confidence through play. Storytelling and role-play strengthen language and social abilities. Music and movement improve physical coordination and cognition. Gardening connects kids to nature and nutrition. Board games teach cooperation and problem-solving. Puzzles promote mental agility. Building with blocks develops spatial and motor abilities. Cooking builds real-world kitchen skills.

Parents and teachers should incorporate a variety of active learning activities into children’s routines at home and in the classroom. This multisensory engagement through reading, writing, discussion, exploration, creation, and play fosters well-rounded academic, social, and emotional development. Active learning gives kids an enriching educational foundation.

You should also get this list we published earlier “314 Active Learning Techniques for Teachers and Learners PDF Download


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