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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.

19 activities for kinesthetic learning pinterest graphic
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Leave a Comment

Maria

says:

Great!

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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