Examing the Nuts and Bolts of Kinesthetic Learning

What is Kinesthetic Learning?

kinesthetic learning
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Kinesthetic learning occurs through hands-on or interactive experiences. It is one of the three main types of learning styles. Kinesthetic learners are sometimes referred to as tactile learners. This type of learner typically learns best through a hands-on approach specifically through touching or doing. Kinesthetic learners love to work with their hands, manipulate objects, and take a more active approach to learning in general.

These learners typically have a short attention span if they are not able to use a hands-on approach. Kinesthetic learning is a fun and interactive form of teaching and learning in which a majority of learners belong to.

One of the benefits of gearing your classroom towards kinesthetic learners is that it easy to include components of other learning styles within a kinesthetic lesson. Furthermore, even learners that prefer other styles still enjoy interactive lessons and activities.  Finally, implementing structured kinesthetic activities on a regular basis makes teaching easier because there are often fewer discipline issues, time goes by faster, and students are actively participating throughout.

It is almost impossible to teach exclusively to this style for a few reasons. First, purchasing and obtaining the materials for all the lessons can become timely and expensive.  Many of the materials are consumables that teachers are required to purchase each year.

  Next, creating these interactive lessons can be difficult. It is not always easy to create interactive lessons that are balanced with pertinent content knowledge.  Finally, creating lessons that resonate with and keep your students attention throughout can be challenging.  Many kinesthetic lessons can be complex and teachers must be aware of the level of complexity in comparison with the age and ability levels of their students.

Some examples of kinesthetic learning activities include:

  • Performing an experiment in a science class where baking soda and vinegar is mixed to demonstrate a chemical change.
  • Using a set of letters covered with sand paper to introduce new letters to prekindergarten students.
  • After completing a unit over Earth’s continents, a social studies teacher has each student construct a papier-mâché globe to reinforce the concepts that students learned.
  • Clapping or jumping up and down to break down syllables within a given word.
  • Conducting math fact races where students have to perform a physical exercise (i.e. five jumping jacks) before working a problem.
  • Complete a simulation activity over bird migration where certain limiting factors are presented, and students have to participate actively in the process of migrating back and forth.
  • Conduct a play or reader's theater where students act out parts of their favorite book.
  • Conduct a scavenger hunt in which students actively look for a certain number of items to enhance a kindergarten lesson over counting (i.e. nine paper clips, 4 pencils).