19 Activities for Kinesthetic Learning
You may have heard that multisensory instruction involves three types of activities:
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.
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 their strongest 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!
- 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.
- Live near the beach? Trace letters, words, or phonograms in the sand. Is it winter? Go outside and stomp giant letters in the snow.
- 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.
- Spell words while jumping on a trampoline, bouncing a ball, or playing catch. Yell out one letter for every jump, bounce, or toss!
- Use playdough, pipe cleaners, or Wikki Stix to form letters and words.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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!
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.