Several months ago I spent 30+ hours of my free time making a desktop wallpaper. It was a fantastic project. I learned a ton about Gimp and ended up with a sweet-looking computer background. Win!
The only way I learn how to use a computer program is by sitting down and using it. I have an amazing auditory capacity for remembering stuff. I am also an intensely visual person. But if I don't get a chance to actually do a technical task, I'll never learn how to do it. I am absolutely all for certain hands-on learning experiences.
In high school I had an incredible world history teacher. I loved going to his class. He made learning fun and inspired me to work really hard. For one assignment, I created an 8-page magazine about Martin Luther. I wrote articles. I drew pictures. I poured hours into the thing.
I don't remember any of it.
I'm not alone. One homeschool mom emailed the following about "silly activities":
They are time-wasters, in my opinion. I'd rather spend time discussing the content than making a craft to 'remember' it. Kids remember things that mean something to them without those activities.
I completely agree.
Sure, if your children want to spend 30+ hours making something because they enjoy the topic or want to express themselves, let them go for it. But there is no academic benefit that warrants you taking the time out of your busy school day to do some forced hands-on activity in a vain attempt to reinforce a lesson. None. Arts & Crafts are wonderful things to do as part of fine motor skill development, creative expression and artistic development. But hands-on activities are definitely not worth the effort as a memory aid.
Don't let needless hands-on activities ruin your school year. Let your children play quietly with Legos or doodle while you read. Encourage your children to take time out of their day to develop their artistic expression and technical abilities. By all means, add Art to your studies. But, please, do not fall prey to the pressure to add activities to your History studies.
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester