Creating Classroom Experiences with the Kinesthetic Learner in Mind

Kinesthetic learners are hands-on and tactile learners. These students learn best in classroom environments that allow for them to move and touch in order to understand.  In today’s educational climate, sitting at a desk for long periods of time is required for kindergarten students all the way through high school.  From the philosophies of brain compatible learning to multiple intelligences, this does not benefit the kinesthetic learners in our classrooms.  Here are some simple ways to encourage these students and help them learn best:  

1. Make learning “hands-on.”  This is easy in a science classroom or in math where manipulatives can be used to help students grasp a concept or idea.  In English Language Arts class students can use clay or play-dough to create their own scene of what is happening in a text.  Use props to help explain the subject matter. It’s okay to get your hands dirty.

2. Be dramatic.  Have students perform skits or dramatic reenactments of history or parts of a story. Have students act out science concepts and become elements, atoms or DNA.  These dramatic activities can include non-verbal dramatic activities like pantomime and tableaus or creative drama where speaking in involved.

3. Think like Hunters & Gatherers.  Create a scavenger hunt around the classroom or school creating clues, riddles, puzzles or questions to lead them around gathering clues in order to show their understanding of a topic.  Orienteering or geocaching is very big now and giving students a map with longitude and latitude coordinates bring together science and the kinesthetic.

4. Go on a Field Trip.  All students to see, touch, taste and experience something live.  Whether you bring in from the outside or take students to another place, there are so many great learning experiences available outside the classroom from visiting local government facilities and museums to working on a farm.  Students need to see other kinesthetic learners at work.

5. Get physical.  Toss a soft ball or beach ball to students during a call and response questioning activity.  Have students stand up when they ask a question or create interactive lessons using a SMARTBoard that allow for students to engage with the whiteboard, touching the board to match, solve and write.

Howard Gardner introduced the idea of Multiple Intelligences in 1983.  Students learn in different ways. The sad fact is that teachers today spend 90% of their classroom instruction geared towards the auditory and visual learner.  In order to reach all the learners in our classroom, teachers need to plan a variety of instructional and enrichment opportunities that allow everyone to learn their best.

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