Hands on connections to the material is a great idea! My kids loved making applesauce after studying about apples. For Halloween, I cut open a pumpkin and let them feel the inside.
You are right on! I am totally a tactile learner. I need to see, smell, touch and generally play with things to best understand them. I know that I am not alone; that is why SchooDoodle sells hundreds of hands on manipulatives for children to work with to help reinforce basic concepts that teachers cover in the classroom.