That's right, I play bells with my hands. This video is taken from an episode of the popular "How it's Made" on the Science Channel. In this 5 minute video you'll see how handbells are made from the foundry to the final tuning.
Rhythms should be learned independently. Say it, say and play it, then play it using body percussion. Each rhythm should be in internalized before played on instruments. Students learned this as a part of a performance for international day.