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Kinesthetic Learning: Learning With Your Whole Body

Kinesthetic Learning: Learning With Your Whole Body - All About Learning Press

What’s the big deal about kinesthetic learning?

“What if my child is a visual or auditory learner? Can’t I just skip the ‘hands-on’ part of our lessons?”

Many people believe that adding kinesthetic (or hands-on) activities to a lesson is all about making learning fun. While making learning fun isn’t a bad thing, it’s not the most important reason to add kinesthetic activities to your lessons.

Another common misconception is that your child has one main learning style and that you should always use instructional methods and activities that focus on that style. Following this logic, many people assume that if their child isn’t a kinesthetic learner, they don’t need kinesthetic activities.

So why include them?

Understanding the big picture

Kinesthetic Learning: Learning With your Whole Body

When I developed the All About Learning Press programs, I knew I needed to create reading and spelling programs that would be effective for children with a variety of learning styles. Children learn best when they are taught through a variety of “pathways” to the brain simultaneously. This concept, known as Simultaneous Multisensory Instruction (SMI), is a much more effective method of teaching children than methods that focus on only one learning style.

Is your child primarily a visual learner? Though he may learn best with visual activities, providing him with kinesthetic and auditory activities alongside the visual activities will provide him with the most effective learning opportunities. Is your child primarily a kinesthetic learner? He still needs auditory and visual activities to learn best.

What’s the main goal of kinesthetic instruction?

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

How hard is it to teach with kinesthetic activities?

When I created All About Reading and All About Spelling, I wanted to make the hands-on component really easy for you! There are lots of hands-on activities built right into the lessons.

Kinesthetic Learning: Learning With your Whole Body

For example, your child can manipulate letters, phonograms, and words using the colored letter tiles included in our program. But even if you want to create some of your own ideas, kinesthetic activities rarely require major effort on a parent’s part.

Kinesthetic Learning: Learning With your Whole Body

Hands-on activities often require no advanced preparation and no (or minimal) materials. 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! As you teach, think about how you can physically involve your child in the lesson using materials you already have around your house. Start in your kitchen pantry. Do you have elbow noodles? Rice? Pudding? Tactile activities don’t have to be expensive to be effective. Shaving cream and liquid soap can be wonderful mediums for getting little hands involved in the learning process.

Need more ideas?

  • Fill a rimmed tray or baking dish with rice, salt, beans, flour, etc. Have your child practice forming letters or words with his finger.
  • Is it winter? Go outside and stomp giant letters in the snow. Live near the beach? Trace your letters in the sand.
Kinesthetic Learning: Learning With your Whole Body
  • For some ooey-gooey fun, fill a Ziploc bag with shaving cream, whipped cream, liquid soap, glue, or pudding. Seal the bag and have your child write letters or words on the bag.
  • Make raised letters for your child to trace. Write a letter on an index card with liquid glue. After the glue dries have your child trace the shape of the glue with his or her index finger. To create a rougher surface, sprinkle sand on the glue before it dries. Want even less preparation? Have your child trace letters on sandpaper or felt.
Kinesthetic Learning: Learning With your Whole Body
  • If you’re not afraid to let your child get his hands dirty, try writing in mud—that’s a lesson that won’t be forgotten.
  • Spell words while jumping on a trampoline or bouncing a ball. Yell out a letter for every jump or bounce!
Kinesthetic Learning: Learning With your Whole Body
  • Form playdough into letters to spell words.
  • Use pipe cleaners or Wikki Stix to form letters and words.

Kinesthetic learning is fun—and the possibilities are endless!

Do you have a hands-on activity that your child loves to do? I’d love to hear about it!

Photo credit: Carisa at 1+1+1=1

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Leave a Comment

How do I find out how my son learns?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Allie,
It is less important to find what learning style your son learns best with, and more important to provide opportunities for him to learn using all learning styles. Research shows that when students learn using all three learning senses (sight, sound, and touch) they learn better than just learning through their best style alone. We discuss this further in our blog post on Multisensory Teaching.

Asma

says:

My son traces the letter by touching the letter while doing abc puzzle.Does that mean Kinesthetic technique will help him?Also I notice he learn seeing pictures and hearing the words. He remembers physical activities like ring a ring a rosy.Any advice will help. He is three years old.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Asma,
All small children are wired to learn from kinesthetic and tactile experiences. It is the primary way they interpret their world. However, research strongly shows that all people learn best when they learn through all three modes of learning, sight, sound, and touch, at the same time. We discuss this further in our blog post on Multisensory Teaching.

We have many blog posts, including numerous free downloads and activities, on teaching preschoolers.

Asma

says:

Thansk for answering my question. Does this learning style apply to all kids even the kids with ASD?

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Asma,
Yes. Children on the autism spectrum do need to approach learning through sight, sound, and touch just as much or more than other students. We have a blog post specifically about Teaching Reading and Spelling to Autistic Children.

Andrea Wenger

says:

Just started using this program and really enjoy teaching it! Like these ideas!

Rachel

says:

Incorporating sketches helps keep my artistic child engaged. I have been known to have a kinesthetic learner do push-ups for each letter of the word! 😄

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Rachel,
Doing push-ups for each letter of a word sounds a bit like basic training! However, I do know some kids that would enjoy that sort of thing.

Kristy

says:

We have been using AAS for 2 years. It is very helpful for my son who is struggling with reading and writing.

Virginia

says:

Thanks for the info. Always so helpful

Jenny Meyer

says:

All About Spelling has completely changed our homeschooling experience. Our old curriculum had my son in tears every day. There are no tears with All About Spelling. My son actually enjoys it!
I can not say enough good things about this program!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Jenny,
We are so happy to hear that All About Spelling has removed the tears!

Jennifer Norton

says:

We have had so much success with AAS! These spelling tips come in handy!

Jennifer Norton

says:

We have had so much success with AAS! Thanks for these wonderful tips!

Nancy

says:

All three of my kids like kinetic sand.

Brenda

says:

Thank you for all the great tips and ideas!

Ruth

says:

Wonderful Suggestions! With three boys these will get a lot of use.

Melissa

says:

This is exactly what my son needs!

jamie

says:

Thanks for the great suggestions!

Sharon

says:

Fun ideas!

Jasmine

says:

These are great ideas!

Jessica Robinson

says:

I love this idea. My youngest is definitely a multi-sensory learner and we will be trying several of these ideas to see if this is the right way to go to help my struggling 1st grader. I have seen positive posts regarding this program! Thanks!

Carrie

says:

Great activities for my very active boys! I love this program – learning the spelling rules is every so more important than learning lists of words by memorization.

Jen

says:

I love how this program allowed me to slow down and step by step help me teach my son how to read stress free.

Kerrie

says:

Awesome program

Melissa McKinney

says:

Love this article! Thank you!

Jessica Bush

says:

Great ideas! Thanks! Kinesthetic learning is a great eperiemtial way for spelling mastery!

Renae B

says:

Using hands on learning has made it possible to complete lessons in our house with two active boys.

Sandi

says:

My daughter always does well spelling words outloud when jumping on the trampoline!

Carole K.

says:

I love this program. My kids like the multicolored tiles, which are a nice change from typical spelling bookwork.

Calista Smith

says:

Hands-on learning is just magical… I learn best that way as well. We love using the magnetic board and letter tiles, and enjoy the extra activities you suggest as well. Thank you for lending your creativity to our homeschool!

Laura

says:

Would love to be able to try this program with a couple of my students.

Susie Taylor

says:

The kinesthetic part is great for my son’s learning and so fun!

Sara

says:

I have begun doing simple obstacle courses that include somersaults, cartwheels, & our climber, in which our kiddo has to pick out cards that make the sound I assign at the start of the course. I included the cereal-box feed-the-puppy idea from this site, so she feeds the puppy her card at the end. She thinks it’s a blast!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sara,
Oh, my! This sounds so exciting. It’s PE and phonics in one lesson!

Shauna

says:

Loving new and different idas.Such good advice!

Shauna

says:

Such good advice!

Rachel

says:

My son used to love swimming his letters in the pool. He was an early swimmer and was learning the alphabet at the same time as learning to swim. He’d swim a letter and have me guess which one it was.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Rachel,
I’ve never heard of swimming as a way to learn letters, but it sounds like it would be super fun!

Jessica

says:

My kids are very kinesthetic learners, so I appreciate all the multi sensory approach, the extra activity ideas in your blogs and the flexibility of the program! I have one child doing AAS1 right now, one on AAS2 and one very slowly working through AAR1. :)

Julie Hudson

says:

I love the multisensory approach! We have also used a plastic container with colored sand from the dollar tree to write in or window markers!:-)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Great kinesthetic writing ideas, Julie! Thanks for sharing them.

Christie S.

says:

This is great. I am a kinesthetic learner, and I wish someone would have figured it out when I was in school!

Sara

says:

This is our first year using AAS and AAR in our homeschool. We love it! At times I have to be flexible with my kindergarten aged son (who is doing the pre-reading AAR level) because he is very much a wiggly boy. Many days we’ve had to take the lesson outside to the trampoline, jumping syllables or even just letting him jump while I read.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sara,
I love how you have incorporated your trampoline into your reading lessons. Sounds like fun!

Michaella Humphrey

says:

I have All About Spelling on my curriculum list for next year. We are so excited about this program!

Christi B

says:

Great ideas! We use a ball to bounce around to learn letters and numbers

Michelle

says:

My son is 4.5 years old. When he 1St turned 4 we began the following activity. I took single stacking mega/duplo blocks & wrote a letter on each block. All vowels were done on same color blocks. Constants were put on any other colors. We then hid the entire alphabet of blocks out in the yard somewhat in the open. (Object was to find them relatively easily & quickly.) He would run around & find the blocks. Each time he found a block he brought it to me, told me the name of the letter, sound it made & a word that started with that letter. He had already mastered 90+% of his letters & sounds before we began this game. So after I was sure he had mastered them all we added a new level to the game. We no longer hid the vowels. Instead, after he found a few letters (doing the earlier steps with each) we began using the new letters to create 3 letter words that he chose & helped to create. He LOVES playing this game! The joy on his face when he’s able to make words on his own is equivalent to that of Christmas morning & he’s having fun while he learns. We are making priceless memories playing together, he’s learning and we are both having fun while we do it!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Michelle,
What a wonderful game you have created! It sounds like so much fun, learning, social fun, lots of running around, it has it all! Thank you for sharing this with us here.

Jeneen

says:

I am a kinesthetic learner and retain information much better when learned interactively. Glad to see this post!

Melissa

says:

Even though I have a bouncy boy who can’t sit still and does have a high kinesthetic learning bent, he often wants to know why we’re doing activities like these. Does that more likely mean that he has mastered the material or that I just need to find different kinesthetic activities?

Merry at AALP

says:

Hi Melissa,

It could be, or it could be he just wants to understand. Does he know why he’s doing them? I found it often helped my kids if they understood the importance of various activities. How old is your son, and which types of activities does he tend to question (specific lessons in AAR or AAS, or just reading in general)?

Beth Beguerie

says:

the ideas on this website are amazing! I can’t wait to try them!

Nancy

says:

I’ve tried to do some kinesthetic activities for my visual learner. We’ve gone outside to write with chalk — which, along with providing more well rounded learning, was a nice change of pace. We’ve done soap in a bag and sand — which eventually ended up all over my carpet. Oh well.

Merry at AALP

says:

Some that my kids enjoyed at 9 and 11:

Letter tiles
writing on different surfaces to change things up (white board, gel pens on black paper, colored markers, sidewalk chalk outside, finger in sand or snow, air writing, finger on carpet squares…oh, writing on glass or mirrors–some kids love that!)

If we were reviewing words that we’d already studied, I let my kids call out the spelling orally, but if they made a mistake or weren’t sure, I had them write the word. It’s important for kids to be fluent in writing the words so that they can be fluent in writing.

If you have a trampoline or mini-tramp, let him call out spellings as he jumps.

If you have a basketball hoop, let him shoot a basket after he correctly spells a word out loud to you.

Some kids like to type their review words.

Level 1 has an exercise where kids jump from letter to letter to work on segmenting. My oldest used to like to jump from square to square to spell words. If you have a tile floor with squares, you could set a letter in each one for him to jump as he spells the words. This is a way of adapting this activity on identifying letters from our post on using refrigerator magnets: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/8-ways-refrigerator-magnets/

He might like the fishing idea in that one and could fish for the letter tiles he needs too.

Similar to this–lay out tiles or phonogram cards and let him swat the letters as he spells the word, as a variation on this activity: http://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/swatting-phonograms/

This article might have a few more ideas for you: http://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/how-to-use-kinesthetic-spelling-activities

Hope this gives you some ideas!

Linda B.

says:

I need more ideas for older kids that are a little farther along than writing letters. I have one that can’t sit still.

Wendy Butler

says:

Linda B.–One thing that we have done in our home with an 11 year-old boy with learning disabilities (who is incredibly bright, but difficult to engage) is to write the material we are covering on the backs of foam plates. Then attach 3 or 4 of the plates side-by-side. You can do this at a younger age with letters, shapes, and numbers, or at an older age with answer options to a specific question (i.e. What year did the Civil War end?) I have them use a nerf gun and shoot the right answer on the “target.” I haven’t had a complaint about this activity from any of my 4 children. :)

Becky

says:

Very helpful!

Carla

says:

Such great and fun ideas! Thank you

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