Technology & Tactile Learning

In his books “Last Child in the Woods” and “The Nature Principle”, Richard Louv points to the restorative powers of nature, while experts like David Sobel have stressed the need for place-based learning as a way for young people to connect with their local communities and strengthen human bonds.

Thomas Elpel noted that his nine-year old struggled to wrap a rubber band around a deck of cards. He states that

"Our society faces hidden perils as our young people adapt to a world where education and recreation are increasingly electronic and virtual, rather than interactive and authentic. Our young people risk losing an essential connection with physical reality."

Elpel states that students need to apply conceptual knowledge and have real-world experiences that help "wire the hands to the brain." He stresses that we need "to create a balance by actively reconnecting kids with direct, physical experience."

Frank Wilson, professor of neurology at Stanford is concerned that young people lack practical experience in how the world works. He's quotes in Richard Louv's book Last Child in the Woods,

"Students have so little real-world experience; they’ve never siphoned anything, never fixed a car, never worked on a fuel pump, may not even have hooked up a garden hose. For a whole generation of kids, direct experiences in the backyard, in the tool shed, in the fields and woods, has been replaced by indirect learning, through machines. These young people are smart, they grew up with computers, they were supposed to be superior -- but now we know something’s missing” (Louv, 67).

Combine Technology and Tactile

EuropePaper-based activities are a great way to connect technology with tactile activities.


Connect history and digital cameras. Go to Dear Photographs. Match local historical photographs to the real places. Find the location, hold the photo, and bring history alive. The photo on the right shows an example courtesy of the Dear Photographs website.

Fortune Tellers

Fortune tellers (also known as cootie catcher, chatterbox, salt cellar and whirlybird) are great for unit reviews. Print and example of a Fortune Teller game (Front and Back). Then, create your own (Directions). Explore other fun examples including Cootie Catcher, Fortune Teller, and Fortune (with directions inside).

If you want to start front a template, try these: PowerPoint (with lines), PowerPoint (you can open in Keynote), Photoshop (zip file).

Each group creates one for some aspect of the unit. The groups jigsaw with other groups to share their projects. It's great practice in turning rotating images and text. Use PowerPoint or Keynote to make your project.


Create cubes for planning, review, or storytelling.

Dynamic Paper

Use technology to create graph paper, number lines, number grids, tessellations, shapes, spinners, and other paper-based activities. Go to Dynamic Paper.

Learn more about connecting technology with tactile learning:

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