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20 Activities for Kinesthetic Learning

Kinesthetic activities (also known as hands-on activities) are fantastic for teaching reading and spelling. The term kinesthetic refers to touching, doing, experiencing, or being physically active. The kinesthetic pathway is one of the three main pathways to the brain.

visual kinesthetic and auditory pathways to the brain graphic

When children are taught using all three pathways to the brain, they learn even more than when they are taught through just one pathway1. The more senses we involve, the more learning occurs–and you’ll maximize long-term retention of the information. And a great side benefit is that kinesthetic learning activities are usually lots of fun.

Free Kinesthetic Activities to Try with Your Kids

  1. If your child reverses letters when she writes, download our free e-book “How to Solve Letter Reversals” for a hands-on solution.
  2. Ready to teach contractions? It’s easy when you have the right kinesthetic lesson plan! Visit this blog post for lots of hands-on tips.
  3. Use the three free activity downloads in The Essential Guide to Teaching Compound Words to help your child practice this important skill.
  4. Swatting Phonograms” is a fantastic hands-on activity your child will love! It’s fast-paced, fun, and engaging–the perfect way for your child to review phonograms!
  5. If you haven’t tried using salt trays as a sensory writing exercise for your children, our blog post and activity Salt Trays for Writing Practice is for you!
  6. Fun Ways to Count Syllables is packed with great hands-on activities designed to help your child learn to count syllables!
  7. Our blog post Helping Kids Sound Out Words includes free printable step-by-step instructions for using our Blending Procedure for One-syllable and Multisyllabic Words.
  8. Ready to turn up the fun on review time? Incorporate one or more of these hands-on activities into your child’s daily reading and spelling lessons.
  9. Our tactile letter cards provide a great multisensory way for little ones to learn about the alphabet. The free download includes uppercase and lowercase letter templates, instructions, and tips for using your cards.
  10. Word Flippers are a super popular part of the All About Reading program. They are fun and motivating for kids and a simple-yet-effective tool for teachers.
  11. Activities that use letter tiles are some of the most effective activities for teaching reading and spelling. In fact, every lesson in All About Reading and All About Spelling includes letter tiles.
  12. Live near the beach? Trace letters, words, or phonograms in the sand. Is it winter? Go outside and stomp giant letters in the snow.
  13. 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.
  14. Spell words while jumping on a trampoline, bouncing a ball, or playing catch. Yell out one letter for every jump, bounce, or toss!
  15. Playing with the alphabet is a great way to encourage mastery of letters and sounds! Use playdough, pipe cleaners, or Wikki Stix to form letters and words.
  16. 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 stoops to pick up his marker, he reads the letter or word in the square.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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.
  20. Segmenting is a critical skill for spelling success. Visit our blog post and download a great segmenting activity to try with your child.
Kinesthetic Activities Poster

Kinesthetic Activities Are 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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Jamie

says:

I love the hopscotch idea! We enjoy bringing our lessons outside, so that will be perfect. 😍

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Outside lessons are extra fun, Jamie!

Anna Horgan

says:

Great list 👍

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Anna.

Tam Renai Ruiz

says:

Thank you for all these hands-on activities to use with the program. My children are 11 years apart in age, and I am literally using the same level 1 book I used with my first! These ideas will come in handy as I continue to homeschool my youngest, who has dyslexia like her older sister. Unlike her older sister, she has a tendency to either guess or skip over words she thinks are too long, even though she was always taught phonics and looking at the letter sounds in a word. I’m glad I came across this blog post when I did! Our next lesson is on compound words, and I will certainly be using these activities. AAS has been helpful in helping her pay more attention to the components in words and she is slowly building up confidence to read more.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad this was helpful for you, Tam! Here are some other blog posts you might find helpful as well:

The Essential Guide to Teaching Compound Words
Break the “Word Guessing” Habit
Help! My Child Skips Small Words When Reading

If you have questions or need anything specific, please let me know.

Mila

says:

Hands down THE BEST reading/spelling program in the world! Let me start by saying that English is my second language. Yes, I studied English at school growing up and my second degree was an English interpreter but for the life of me I couldn’t put it together for my daughter to understand “how it works”. English is her first language and before we started this program she knew all the basics the get her though but was not willing to apply any rules and was guessing A LOT! 🤦‍♀️
Now… omg! She is outstanding! We only did level 2 reading and level 1 spelling (I wanted to start with level 1 so we can make sure to not miss anythingッ) and all the activities in the book, oh my- she comes home from school and goes straight to the white board to “play”/learn!
I’m so glad I found you guys ❤️ and at the same time so sad that the school system is failing her, she is only 7 and there was a mention of dyslexia when all she needed was THE RIGHT approach!
I absolutely LOVE this learning program! Thank you 🙏 ( honestly I wish I had it back in the day when I was learning English)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you so much for sharing this, Mila! It’s exciting to read how quickly your daughter has made progress in reading and spelling with just one level of each!

Samantha H

says:

This is definitely a good resource. My first was a workbook kid all the way, my second couldn’t care less about workbooks. Figuring out how to teach them independently is quite a challenge, but doable.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad this is useful for you, Samantha.

Andrea D

says:

Love having these ideas listed – so helpful for when you just need something more!

Emily

says:

My girls love to write on the windows when they practice spelling or sounding out words. I never knew how excited it would make them. We have colorful window markers they love using.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Emily,
It’s funny how something as simple as writing words in a new and unusual place can make the activity exciting! It’s a great reminder that sometimes all it takes is a little change to make a big difference in perception.

Judy

says:

Can’t wait to try!

Judy

says:

Only started learning more about AAR program. Can’t wait to try!

Kishaa

says:

Great idea. Will try these for sure.

Keri

says:

I love these ideas. I’ve been incorporating more of them lately with my student who is very sensory oriented and it has made all the difference.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I’m glad to hear these activities have helped to make a difference for your student, Keri!

Andrea

says:

These are wonderful tips, thank you! My kids would love the “snowball” fight idea!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

The “snowball fight” one is especially fun, Andrea!

Joanna Howe

says:

The multisensory aspect of AAR has definitely helped my son be successful!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wonderful to hear, Joanna!

Kimberly Mignella

says:

Awesome info!

Shelley

says:

So many great ideas! I recently watched a youtube video where the kids wrote words with a white crayon and then colored over it with watercolor pencils and then used a paintbrush dipped in water to reveal the word.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Sounds like a fun activity, Shelley! Thanks for sharing the idea.

Brittany

says:

thanks for these great tips

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Brittany.

Erica

says:

I love these ideas! Hands on schooling is lots of fun!🤩

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Glad you like the ideas, Erica!

Alicia

says:

Love these ideas for interactive learning!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Thank you, Alicia!

Deneen

says:

These are fantastic activities and I can’t wait to try them with my young children! Thank you for sharing this ideas. They will be a hit with all my children, but especially my 5 year old son.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Wonderful, Deneen. I hope you and your children have lots of fun with these!

Philip Lawrence

says:

What’s wonderful is that this type of problem can be solved and the child can then learn more easily.

Jennifer

says:

Thank you for these helpful tips!

Natosha Miller

says:

Sounds like a great way to make learning fun and possibly not even feel like a chore, but a game that benefits the mind. ☺

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Yes, exactly, Natosha. Fun learning encourages children to be excited about more learning!

Heather

says:

I knew some of these techniques but not others. Thank you for the helpful suggestions! We’ll be trying them out later today with my reluctant/struggling reader :)

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Heather! I hope you have a lot of fun with these.

Mandi

says:

Such helpful tips!

Penny Branson LeBaron

says:

This is so true! I’m all for experiential learning and using all three ways of learning, not only utilizes the learner’s learning strength but also strengthens the secondary ones.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

Yes, great point, Penny!

Michele

says:

My son loves the “Swatting Phonograms” game. I laminated the bug cards and the “splat” that I taped to a fly swatter so they would hold up. I put them all over the room and he runs around looking for the right bug to splat. It’s a great way to burn off some of that energy he has while learning at the same time. He has a blast and asks to play the game often!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

I love that you made it so active, Michele. No wonder he enjoys it so much!

Judith Martinez

says:

Love these helpful ideas! I’m inclined to think that all young children are kinesthetic learners and that the more senses we engage when teaching difficult concepts the easier it is for them to retain.

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

So, true, Judith! Our programs provide Simultaneous Multisensory Instruction (SMI), teaching with visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning throughout. You can read more about it in our Multisensory Teaching for Reading and Spelling blog post.

Jennifer Turco

says:

Awesome ideas! Love AAR and excited to try AAS this year.

Frieda

says:

Thanks for all of these great ideas to get kids moving and thinking!

Robin E.

says: Customer Service

You’re welcome, Frieda. Glad you like the suggestions!