By Sean Alexander

Every student naturally finds certain classroom activities and study methods more effective and engaging than others. Perhaps you learn best when you can do hands-on activities like science experiments. Or maybe you need to doodle in the margins of your notes so you can stay focused during lectures. If these descriptions resonate with you, you might be a kinesthetic learner. What is kinesthetic learning? This term refers to a common learning style that emphasizes hands-on experiences and physical movement. Kinesthetic learners typically understand and remember information best when physically interacting with objects in their learning environment. Understanding kinesthetic learners' unique characteristics and preferences can help these students thrive in the classroom and beyond.


What Is the Kinesthetic Learning Style?

Educators define kinesthetic learning as the process of understanding and memorizing new information by manipulating physical materials or moving the body. Because kinesthetic learning prioritizes touch, some people also refer to it as tactile learning.

Kinesthetic learners need to interact with objects in their environment for deep learning. For instance, a student with this learning style could learn chemical reactions by using baking soda and vinegar to launch a bottle rocket. Other examples of kinesthetic activities include building models, drawing maps, and making study flashcards.

Kinesthetic learning is one of four learning styles included in the VARK model. Other common styles include:

  • Visual: Prefers activities that engage their sight, such as studying diagrams and watching videos
  • Auditory: Processes information by listening to videos, lectures, songs, and other aural materials
  • Reading/Writing: Prefers to study textual information and organize their thoughts through writing.

Students can have multiple learning styles. For instance, auditory learners may also memorize information efficiently using visual learning techniques. Many websites offer free learning style quizzes that you can use to identify your preferred style(s).

Characteristics of Kinesthetic Learners

Students who prefer the kinetic learning style tend to share certain traits from a young age. Common characteristics of kinesthetic learners include:

  • A strong preference for learning activities that involve body movement, such as creating art and playing educational board games
  • The need to physically interact with objects to learn concepts
  • A love of experimenting and exploring new environments
  • The inability to sit still for prolonged periods of time
  • A natural aptitude for art, sports, and other activities that center on physical movement
  • The desire to doodle or draw diagrams while taking notes
  • The use of expressive body language, such as hand gestures
  • Enjoyment of collaborative activities, peer tutoring, and other interactive exercises
  • An inclination to take objects apart and rebuild them to see how they work


Benefits of the Kinesthetic Learning Experience

Kinesthetic learning activities significantly enrich the lives of hands-on learners. Tactile experiences like building dioramas and making posters allow kinesthetic learners to process and recall information more easily. As a result, educators and tutors can help students excel academically by incorporating activities designed for kinesthetic styles.

These experiences also engage students who may struggle to focus and learn in traditional classrooms. According to the National Math Foundation, at-risk students often perform better and feel more motivated when participating in playful, activity-oriented lessons. []

Additionally, this learning style can improve students’ physical fitness. Many activities for kinesthetic learners include structured physical movement for extended periods. These lessons get children and teenagers out of their seats and relieve stress.

Kinesthetic Learning Preferences

Tactile learners typically prefer activities that involve kinesthetic communication. They may get bored quickly in traditional classrooms that prioritize other learning modes, such as lectures and reading dense novels.

Here are four kinesthetic learning style examples that teachers and tutors can use to accelerate the learning process for hands-on learners.

Physical Activity

Kinesthetic learners often thrive when they can pair physical activities with the concepts they’re studying. As students move their bodies, they stimulate their brains and make connections between ideas.

Examples of learning activities that involve physical movement include:

  • Have students arrange themselves in a human graph to represent data
  • Play games related to math concepts, like clapping the answer to simple math problems
  • Compare body parts to metric measurements
  • Color diagrams to learn human anatomy
  • Have students stretch their bodies to make different quadrilateral shapes
  • Organize a scavenger hunt to find resources in the school library
  • Act out skits based on historical events

Hands-On Activities

Hands-on experiences are one of the easiest ways to incorporate kinesthetic learning in the classroom. Teachers can use a variety of tactile lessons to enhance learning outcomes and keep tactile learners engaged.

Here are a few examples of popular hands-on activities:

  • Build boats with aluminum foil and other household materials and compete to see which ships can hold the most coins
  • Use clay to create a model of the coastlines and sea floor in a tub of water and blow air across the water to simulate ocean surface currents
  • Make a collage to illustrate the different relationships among characters in a novel
  • Sketch key themes and symbols from a short story

Practical Application

Hands-on simulations enable kinesthetic learners to connect concepts to their practical applications. For instance, field trips to the aquarium or zoo provide opportunities to observe animal behavior up close and study different habitats. Similarly, students could learn about agriculture and biology by planting and caring for a school garden. Practical lessons like these enable students to actively participate in the learning process and create lasting memories.

Memorize Information Through Action

Kinesthetic learners can also incorporate physical activity into their study sessions. Students can draw diagrams on paper or a whiteboard to cement their understanding through movement. Additionally, tactile learners can quickly memorize key terms by creating flashcards and flipping through them to study.

Experience Tailored Learning With Our Expert Tutors

Research suggests that approximately 23% of people prefer kinesthetic learning. However, traditional classrooms don’t always accommodate this style, making it difficult for tactical learners to thrive.

Alexander Tutoring provides personalized online tutoring for students with all learning styles. Our caring tutors incorporate a variety of exciting hands-on activities to help kinesthetic learners master mathematics and physics subjects. Students learn at their own pace while gaining confidence in their academic abilities. Contact us today to learn more about our individualized tutoring services.


  • Sean Alexander

    COMMAND PILOT, OWNER Sean has been a professional educator for 15 years and has taught math, physics, and astronomy at all levels.  His experience ranges from working at a high school for severe learning differences to teaching advanced physics at Stanford.  After completing his graduate work in theoretical physics Sean founded Alexander Tutoring, with the mission of revealing the deep connections between math and nature to as many students as possible. 

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