Tips to Implement Kinesthetic Learning in the Classroom

Jul 20, 2015

I was hardly fourteen when I made a brand new discovery.

Well, at that point of time I was engrossed in memorizing critical formulae of Chemical compounds at school. And during the Physics classes, I often dozed off, unable to analyze why the iron nails made a peculiar pattern when arranged around two bar magnets! The definitions and complex theories in Physics, Chemistry, and a few other subjects continued to haunt me long after the conclusion of the classroom lectures.

For, I simply failed to grasp the basic concepts of these subjects.

How I discovered that I’m a Kinesthetic Learner

One fine Thursday morning, however, things began to look up, and destiny seemed to have something interesting to offer. I was in the Chemistry laboratory of our school, conducting the famous ‘litmus test’. As I dipped a blue litmus strip into a test-tube containing an acid, the part of the litmus paper dipped in the acidic solution gradually started turning red!

I noted down my observation in a diary.

And the following day, when my Chemistry teacher enquired about my experiment, I promptly explained what triggers the color transformation in litmus papers. Luckily, my answer was accurate, and the teacher beamed at me.

The incident astonished me. That is because since the past one week, despite my numerous attempts to memorize the litmus test by heart, my mind was a blank slate.

Highlighting the textbook, re-writing the litmus theory several times, and even discussing with my peers proved to be futile. The idea of litmus test simply refused to register in my ‘Chemistry-oppressed brain’! And suddenly, just after a single practical Chemistry session at the school lab, understanding the litmus theory seemed as effortless as drinking a glass of water. As I pondered deeper, I finally realized that the reason behind my success following a post-practical Chemistry lab session was that: I am a kinesthetic learner.

Who is a Kinesthetic Learner?

I am sure most of you must be contemplating about what you just heard.

‘Kinesthetic learner’ – this might sound alien to many!

Let me explain. Kinesthetic learners are students who are more likely to absorb their lessons when they are inspired to participate in physical learning activities, rather than merely listening to academic lectures or classroom explanations of theories. Since such kind of learners generally learn something by being actively involved in a particular event or activity, they are referred to as ‘do-ers’.

The concept of kinesthetic learning has been witnessing widespread popularity in several educational institutions due to its innovative idea.

Also known as ‘tactile learning’, this type of a learning agenda mainly includes pupils who are believed to be ‘discovery learners’.

In a nutshell, kinesthetic students are proved to be better achievers once they initiate some form of action from their end in contrary to ordinary learners who obtain realization following a process of detailed thinking and memorizing facts. So naturally, kinesthetic learners tend to be easily distracted while they try to listen to lectures or read anything.

The effective ‘eye-hand coordination’ of such kind of students plays a crucial role in ensuring them success in any and every field, particularly academics.

What I mean is: the secret to their learning strategy is that they are capable of utilizing their body to express any emotion, idea, thought, or theory.

Common Activities Kinesthetic Learners Excel at: Kinesthetic youngsters have generally been observed to excel in certain activities that might not appear to be as effectual for normal students.

Learners Excel

A number of educators have identified a common behavioral traits of such types of learners. They are blessed with an outstanding ability to be able to concentrate in more than one thing at the same time, thereby proving their versatility.

Furthermore, it also goes on to prove what brilliant multitaskers they actually are!

This happens because of their dexterity to learn instantly from the things they have been doing in school, colleges, or at home as part of their educational assignments and projects.

How to Apply Kinesthetic Learning Strategies in Classrooms

A typical classroom setting is home to a diverse student populace.

While a handful of students might appear to be proactive, there might be others who tend to be shy, introverts, or simply distracted. Great teachers identify the various types of learners present in a classroom in order to customize the lessons as per the requirements of all types of learners.

However, a classroom might also include some students who are auditory learners – who tend to pick up concepts more clearly when they are elucidated with audio-recorded lectures.

Similarly, some educators might have noticed a few students who learn faster when the lessons are presented to them in the form of visual representations like illustrated diagrams, charts, graphs or photographs. They belong to the category of visual learners.

Why Kinesthetic Learners are Different?

But, have you come across a certain category of students who find it challenging to stay put at their current task and end up fidgeting with their bags, or banging their pencils on their desks in the class?

You would catch sight of these students struggling to focus on a particular task like reading, or completing an exercise based on a chapter you might have taught them recently.

Simply put, these are the students who are immediately labeled as ‘difficult kids’.

However, the truth is: they are simply different. Grossly different than most of their classmates. Physical stimulation is the only element that possesses the potential of triggering a spark of realization among the kinesthetic pupils. They must ‘move’ in order to imbibe the idea about different academic lessons or chapters.

But, dear teachers, don’t lose heart.

For, such kind of students are usually manageable, once you are acquainted with some of the coolest teaching strategies to get them engaged in your classroom lectures. In simpler terms, you should put your best foot forward in motivating students by introducing ‘kinesthetic learning’ in your class.

kinesthetic learning

So, let us read about some of the best tips to implement kinesthetic learning in academic scenarios.

#1. Action-oriented Classes

As I have already specified, nothing works better for kinesthetic students more than ‘live action’. These types of learners are born for imbibing the knowledge through active involvement in activities closely associated with the topics they are trying to learn.

They succeed in picking up the core concepts by taking part in systematic activities that boast of periodic movements.

For instance, these learners tend to prove their mettle in academics while they are busy in conducting scientific experiments in school laboratories. Or, are engaged in short plays portraying the plots of the stories they are being taught in their classes. Also, such students also thrive in classes that make physical activities mandatory in their sessions.

Theoretical knowledge in the form of textbooks, academic notes, websites, e-books, or other forms of study materials never appeal to them at all.

Instead, they prefer practical activities in order to harness their potential in academics. As they learn more beautifully with the aid of real-life examples and ideas, field trips are also known to be favored by them. A visit to a park or a local museum would do them a world of good rather than an entire lesson in the classroom highlighting similar facts as those present in the trips.

lesson in the classroom

#2. Being Compatible Teachers

It is straight and simple.

You cannot expect your students to treat you with dignity unless you respect them and their style of learning.

Prior to teaching students who are kinesthetic in nature, you should be well-informed about their common behavioral characteristics. And, what’s more, you should be ready to be compatible with them. Just shake off your rigidity and learn to accept your kinesthetic learners gracefully.

I agree it is easier said than done. However, you can at least give it a try!

The first thing you should do when you enter a classroom with kinesthetic students is: view the reactions of your students with an optimistic mindset. Never support your conscience if it tells you, “Oh, how disruptive these kids are, I wonder if they would ever get to learn this lesson.”

Make efforts to cultivate a healthy mindset towards these students and make your lessons compatible to the learning habits of these types of learners.

You can also make provisions for interactive games at the conclusion of your classes to reward students who display signs of progress. It would inculcate a longing for academics and learning in the hearts of these students!

#3. Employing Visual Illustrations

Did you know that kinesthetic learners share some common characteristics with visual learners?

I will tell you how.

Like visual learners, kinesthetic pupils are also drawn to visual elements. Here are a few elements that you can make use of while teaching kinesthetic students.

teaching kinesthetic students

like maps, words, detailed lessons presented through charts or graphs, pictures as well as photographs. This is true while they are in schools and even while they are studying individually, at home or preparing for their exams.

In addition, good teachers should also include quality diagrams to energize kinesthetic learners, so that they can master their lessons swiftly and successfully.

Not only that. Educators should also leave no stone unturned in convincing such learners to practice diagrams that are closely related to their lessons or the subject they might be studying. You cannot underestimate the power of visual elements like diagrams or maps while you are imparting education to these types of students!

For, even if it is just their hands that are moving as they are sketching anything or creating a map, this sort of physical movement would enable them to retain their lessons in their minds.

Little Passports

Use a giant whiteboard in your class. It would help you achieve your goal as a teacher further, as you teach kinesthetic learners.

#4. Associating Lessons with Motions

Bodily movements score the highest rank when it comes to enhancing the memory, analytical and communication skills of students who are kinesthetic! You offer them a monotonous lecture on the functions of various parts of the human brain.

And the next day, when you conduct a surprise test based on the lesson on human brain, the performance of some students shock you.

You discover that a large section of the students have hardly been able to form a clear idea about the different portions of the human brain. Consequently, they stumble against your questions.

Well, I would suggest you analyze your students cautiously before you start teaching them. For, they might represent a group of kinesthetic learners.

Why not embrace a few teaching tactics that would incorporate a fair amount of motion in your lessons. For instance, you might ask your students to clap in response to the appropriate answers offered by some kids. Also, you can persuade your pupils to hop while they revise about the cerebrum!

While the kinesthetic learners would be revising their lessons, they would associate and reinforce certain portions of their lesson to these motions.

#5. Using Materials that Aid in Learning

Kinesthetic learners are really fond of modifying their physical environment.

They love working with their environment, moving their bodies, and learning something at the same time. As you are already knowledgeable about the fact that kinesthetic pupils can hardly concentrate in the absence of motion, you should find out ways and means to employ materials that facilitate learning for such students.

For example, you can boost the creativity of your students by asking them to create things with clay or play-dough.

Working with objects would keep them thoroughly interested in their lessons as well as offer them an idea about a sense of ownership and responsibility in their lessons. That is because, kinesthetic students would take immense pleasure in knowing that they are responsible for creating something special and beautiful using these objects, which are associated with their lessons.


Apart from playdough, teachers might also wish to explore options like K’Nex or Legos to encourage these kids to direct their energies towards learning their lessons.

#6. Arranging for Frequent Breaks

All work and no play is liable to usher in a spirit of monotony and dullness in the classroom. Just imagine a class where the History teacher continues explaining the salient features of Fascism and Nazism to a bunch of students who are yawning away!

I bet most of the students in the History session might have been staring at the teacher absent-mindedly, waiting for the bells to signal the end of the session.

Do you know why this a common student phenomenon? Well, it happens because the attention span of a majority of young students does not exceed over twenty-five to thirty minutes. Obviously, when an academic lesson extends for a prolonged period, say for instance over forty-five minutes, they lose track of the concept and their minds begin to wander!

Although this fact holds true for every kind of learner, this is particularly true in the case of kinesthetic learners all the more, since these students are easily bored.

Lack of adequate motion can turn out to be a major turn-off for these learners. It is one of the most important reasons why they require a break every now and then, from your lectures or assignments. Why not permit your students to enjoy a short break of about 10 minutes after you teach them about a new idea?

#7. Utilizing Space Intelligently

In acceptance lies trust.

And you got to accept that kinesthetic students are different, very different compared to ordinary kids. So it’s natural that they would be keener to learn from abstract concepts rather than traditional learning tactics. Real-world connections, coupled with intelligent space-utilization methodologies, would make sure that such students learn efficiently!

Now, you might be wondering how you can utilize ‘spaces’ in your class.

Let me offer you a simple example.

You can write out each step of an experiment or an academic idea on different pieces of paper. Next, place these sheets of paper at a distance from each other, in perfect order. Place the pieces on the floor of your classroom.

Sounds thrilling, isn’t it?

Indeed, it is so.

Once you do this, you can easily make your students walk in between the pieces of papers laid out across the floor. As their brains are stimulated by physical motion, they would be able to remember what they learn while they move nearer to every piece of paper containing an idea or concept.

#8. Making Them Work with Other Kinesthetic Kids

It is true when they say, there is unity in diversity.

However, when it comes to the different types of students studying together in a classroom, it is not quite convincing. I will tell you why. In an academic environment, similar types of learners always gel well and even perform better when they are paired with students belonging to their category.

Also, you must have noted that teachers favor students with identical personalities!

So, always make it a point to get your kinesthetic learners collaborate with students with similar learning patterns. Divide your class into the categories of the different types of students, and classify students accordingly. Here’s what you can do.

learning patterns

You would be amazed to learn how quickly your kinesthetic pupils pick up numerous learning as well as basic skills like reading and writing when they work closely with their kinesthetic peers.

When learners belonging to similar learning abilities engage in group studies or work jointly on group projects, they are more likely to shine in brilliance.

#9. Leveraging Math

Math – the subject might sound terrifying to most students out there, but I am sure teachers would know what I mean when I say, ‘leverage Math with an aim to helping kinesthetic learners in your classroom.’ Trust me, Math can offer you a lot in terms of making the process of learning and education more convenient for young students, especially those who are kinesthetic.

Read the following guidelines I have compiled for educators. I know it would be handy for you if you are eager to unearth the Math-mystery!

  • Use candies while you are teaching your kinesthetic learners about the concepts of subtraction, addition, or even fractions.
  • Make sure the cupboard in your classroom is well-equipped with fabrics or various types of materials in the shapes of rectangles, cubes or cuboids while imparting lessons in measurement.
  • You can employ dice when you attempt to teach probability or number games.
  • A truly creative way of inspiring kinesthetic pupils is to make them act out the word problems they are about to solve. Other students should try to guess what the problem talks about by reading the expressions of their classmates.
  • Ask students to trace the numbers with sketch pens of different colors or glue rice when you are teaching them about reversals.

Math can cast a spell over kinesthetic students, only if you are familiar with the best ways to adopt it in your classes!

#10. Involving Students in Spelling Activities

Spelling and vocabulary activities are greatly beneficial for educating learners who are kinesthetic.

Having said that, you should bear in mind that the spelling events must be organized in a way that it is inclusive of bodily movements. Read the next few points to understand how you can go about this task in a hassle-free manner:

  • Teachers can urge kinesthetic pupils to play the ‘spelling ball’ contest to help them revise words for a spelling exam. Students might use some parts of their bodies to form some letters of the word accurately.
  • Ask every student to create a single letter of any word using their bodies. The last child who creates a letter should then stand up and speak out the word aloud for the entire class.

create a single letter

  • Play Scrabble or solve crossword puzzles with your students for a change. It would develop the vocabulary of your students to a large extent without even requiring them to pour into books that they find so boring!

I sincerely hope these tips guide you in your journey of discovering the learning avenues of kinesthetic learners and aid them in achieving excellence in the field of academics. They might display high energy levels or a hint of impatience. However, if they are treated with love, care, and respect, they would grow up into confident and diligent humans capable of earning success and fame.

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