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19 Activities for Kinesthetic Learning

You may have heard that multisensory instruction involves three types of activities:

  1. Visual
  2. Auditory
  3. Kinesthetic

Visual obviously refers to sight, and auditory refers to hearing. But what does kinesthetic mean?

The term kinesthetic refers to touching, doing, experiencing, or being physically active, and it’s one of the three main pathways to the brain.

visual kinesthetic and auditory pathways to the brain graphic

Kinesthetic Activities Are Important for All Learners

You may already know that when children are taught using all three pathways to the brain, they learn even more than when they are taught only through just one pathway (Farkus, 2003)1. The more senses we involve, the more learning occurs. So even if your child is an auditory or visual learner, it is still important to teach through kinesthetic activities as well. By doing so, not only will you be sure to teach to your child’s strongest pathway, but you will also maximize long-term retention of the information.

Kinesthetic activities help ingrain learning into long-term memory by turning a lesson into a physical experience. When a child is engaged in a kinesthetic activity, he is moving and touching and interacting with his lessons. And a great side benefit is that kinesthetic learning activities are usually lots of fun.

10 Free Kinesthetic Activities to Try with Your Kids

Visit these blog posts to get free kinesthetic activities to try with your children.

9 More Activities for Kinesthetic Learning

Most hands-on activities can be completed with minimal materials and with no advanced preparation. An effective spelling activity can be as simple as writing letters in the air or tapping out syllables on a kitchen counter—no materials required!

  1. Activities that use letter tiles are some of the most effective activities for teaching reading and spelling. In fact, every lesson of All About Reading and All About Spelling includes letter tiles.
  2. Live near the beach? Trace letters, words, or phonograms in the sand. Is it winter? Go outside and stomp giant letters in the snow.
  3. For some ooey-gooey fun, fill a zip-top baggie with shaving cream, whipped cream, liquid soap, glue, or pudding. Seal the bag and have your child write letters or words on the bag.
  4. Spell words while jumping on a trampoline, bouncing a ball, or playing catch. Yell out one letter for every jump, bounce, or toss!
  5. Use playdough, pipe cleaners, or Wikki Stix to form letters and words.
  6. Write letters or words in each square of a hopscotch grid. Follow standard hopscotch rules, using beanbags, stones, or bottle caps for markers. When the child stops to pick up his marker, he reads the letter or word in the square.
  7. Use a marker to write letters or words on a large beach ball. Have your child throw the ball in the air, catch it, and say the letters or words closest to his thumbs.
  8. Have a “snowball” fight using ping pong balls, Nerf balls, or crumpled paper. Write letters or words on index cards and tape them to the wall. As you call out letters or words, your child must find them and throw snowballs at them.
  9. Play hide and seek with words and sentences. Write them on pieces of paper and hide them around the room. When your child finds a piece of paper, he must read it before searching for the next one.
Kinesthetic Activities Poster

Kinesthetic Learning Is Fun—and the Possibilities Are Endless!

Do you have a favorite hands-on activity for teaching reading and spelling? Post in the comments below!

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1Farkus, R.D. (2003). Effects of traditional versus learning-styles instructional methods on middle school students. The Journal of Educational Research, 97(1), 42-51.

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Laticia W

says:

This is perfect for my wiggly little Kindergartner! We just started using the AAR curriculum through our HS and I can’t wait to dig in! We don’t have the wooden pieces at our disposal so I improvised using popsicle sticks and pipe cleaners and it was a huge hit! Will start using the letter tiles this week! :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

It’s great to improvise, Laticia! I hope this week goes really well for you.

Kimfa Johnson

says:

I’ve recently noticed my daughter is a kinesthetic learner and here in our country of Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, we do not cater to their needs as much as we should. So I am looking for any advice and/or help I can get to assist my 10yr old daughter who is now in the 4th grade. (we call it standard 4 down here). This reading above was very helpful and will be put to good use. Thank you.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad this was helpful for you, Kimfa. Take a look at our Multisensory Teaching for Reading and Spelling blog post as well. Research has found that students learn best of all when they learning using visual, auditory, and kinesthetic methods all together, even better than when one is used alone, even if it is their strongest one.

If you have any questions or need ideas, please let me know.

Betty Ann Blackford

says:

Hi, Marie I really love this set of information and activity tips you sent. I will definitely share this information with both parents and students.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you for sharing our blog, Betty Ann!

Elvia

says:

Thank you so much.

Rashanda

says:

These are helpful ideas especially for wiggly young boys!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Glad you liked this article, Rashanda!

Claudine Palmer

says:

Brilliant information, this has confirmed my suspicions that I’m am not crazy. Now i know what i can do to help my child.

Thank you, Very help

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Claudine. Let me know if you need anything else.

Nina Beck

says:

Interesting site! Thank you .

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Nina. If you have any questions, just let me know. 😊

Shara

says:

What a great website. Some amazing and yet simple ideas to help children with their learning. I have always been a fan of kinesthetic learning and yes children always enjoy the learning and retain the information for longer. Thank you.

Merry

says: Customer Service

Thanks, Shara! Have fun teaching your students!

Kristy Walker

says:

Do you have any templates I am able to print out as a copy for any of the activities above.

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Kristy,

Yes, many of the ideas above have templates (word-flippers, swatting phonograms, tactile letter cards and many others do)–just click on the one you are interested in to go to the page with the template. Enjoy!

Audra Wilburn

says:

Looking for tips on how to help my child distinguish when and how to use a capital letter versus a lowercase letter. For example when she writes the word mop she’s using a capital P at the end almost every time. Please help!!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Audra,
How old is your child? This sort of error is common with younger students and will resolve in time with gentle correction. If she is 5 or 6, just point to the letter and tell her, “This needs to be a lower case letter, not a capital.” Discuss that capitals are used only in very specific places: the first letter in a sentence, the first letter in a name, and for some abbreviations. Otherwise, we use lower case letters. (She may point out that billboards and signs often use all caps. Let her know that advertisers just do whatever they can to get our attention.)

If she is older, say 9 or 10 or older, you may find this article on Dysgraphia informative. Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects a person’s ability to write and spell. One of the symptoms is placing capital letters in random places well after other students have stopped doing so. If she is 7 to 8 years old, see if she has a lot of the other symptoms of dysgraphia too. If she doesn’t, it may just be that she needs to spend time consistently every day working on writing and getting the use of capitals correct for a while for her to master them.

I hope this helps, but let me know if you have further questions or need more information.

Susan

says:

Need kinestetic activities to slow a fast reader down in order to comprehend and pay attention to punctuation

Merry

says: Customer Service

Hi Susan–that can be tricky sometimes! Check out 10 Solutions for Kids Who Read Too Fast: https://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/child-reads-too-fast/.

Lindiwe mlambo

says:

Hellow
Help me please, on how will I use Edu-kineseology to promote reading,writing and learning to my grade R learners

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Lindiwe,
I’m happy to help. This blog post gives lots of ideas for kinesthetic activities, but we have many more. Take a look at:
Reading Readiness: The Top 5 Skills
5 Ways to Teach Rhyming
Fun Ways to Develop Phonological Awareness
Activities for Learning the Alphabet

Please let me know if there is something specific you are looking for.

Tulisha Scott

says:

Thank you for so many great ideas!

Kevin McCabe

says:

Many thanks for these great ideas

Karen

says:

Thank you for the wonderful user-friendly ideas.

Jenilee Forst

says:

We are going to be practicing spelling in the sand this summer for sure. Great ideas!

Adel

says:

Thank you for the information it is helpful

Connie

says:

Am curious about how to go about teaching my kinesthetic learner to do creative writing.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great questions, Connie. However, without knowing your learner’s age or how she or he is doing with reading and spelling it’s hard to give specific advice. Children need to be doing well with reading and spelling before they are ready to begin writing their own compositions. Our blog post Language Arts in My Household has more information about this.

If your student is doing well with reading and spelling and is ready to do formal writing, one thing you can do is break writing down into incremental steps so he or she can know exactly what to do first, then second, and so on. There are a number of writing curricula that are incremental like this. Let me know if you need recommendations.

Cynthia Pinto

says:

Thank you so much for the hard work and putting in so much effort and thought in creating this blog. I love it for the loads of information it provides. I’m so excited to try all the activities explained here. God bless.

Suzy

says:

Thank you for the easy and fun ideas to make learning fun!

Name Pinyana

says:

I m teaching these kinds of learners l need this information like anything because they are really struggling and I want to help them.

Emeli

says:

Board games are great learning tools, especially in the last decade or so when the popularity of board games has swelled and you can find some much variety in them now. You can find a board game to go with pretty much any subject!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

We agree, Emeli! We recently did a blog post that discussed Using the Game Boggle to Build Language Skills. We have other game reviews and printable games available too.

Meghan

says:

That snowball fight activity sounds like something my son would love!

Jeannette

says:

These are some wonderful ideas to use with my child who has multiple learning disabilities. Thank you for these resources

Merry

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Jeannette! You might find these tips for working with struggling learners helpful too.

Janette Harris

says:

Thank you so much for these wonderful ideas! I have a kinesthetic learner who also has some special needs. It has been challenging to find enough activities to reach her. Our favorite hands-on reading activity is playing board games.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Janette,
Board games are great learning tools, especially in the last decade or so when the popularity of board games has swelled and you can find some much variety in them now. You can find a board game to go with pretty much any subject!

Mia

says:

Thanks for the kinesthetic learning ideas!

Justis

says:

This is wonderful especially for our slow talker

This is just an amazing program for all students, and it is doesn’t matter what age they are. I believe that this program will help to our kids to become more concentrate at studying and learn more useful information. It will be awesome if kids will study new information in that way. Thank you for sharing such amazing ideas for our kids, you are doing a great job.

Royelle Mickelson

says:

I’ve used the hopscotch game before. One variety is to put the vowels or words in each box and ask the student to hop to the vowel that usually says /a/ as in cat or to hop to the square that shows the ending sound in top. Velcro balls will stick to carpet samples that you have attached to the wall or floor and taped words or letters to as well.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I love these ideas! I especially love how your hopscotch game works on phonological awareness, as it is sometimes hard to make that physically active. Thank you for sharing these, Royelle.

Chris

says:

I think this program could be very good with my special education students as it dos not look to young.

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