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Active Learning: Engaging Activities for Kids Who Can't Sit Still

Most students learn best when they are on the move. They learn faster, retain more information, and build neural networks that can manipulate that information more effectively when they are inactive physical motion. However, this may not match some of our notions of traditional learning, in which students sit silently and attentively in rows. The following kinesthetic activities allow children to learn on the move for better retention and enjoyment of the academic experience.

Kinesthetic-Based Subjects: Gym, Drama, Art, and Music

Some school curriculum subjects are kinesthetic-based subjects. For instance, gym, art, music, and drama are all subject areas where most teaching strategies are activities that require students to focus on physical movement. Students who are kinesthetic learners often perform better in these subjects. They are able to recall more key concepts and subject-based vocabulary, and they make meaningful connections with the subject material. They understand these subjects because they learn while they are in motion.

Learning on the Move During English Lessons

English classrooms are dynamic environments today, with many opportunities to activate and enhance kinesthetic intelligence. Reading out loud is a kinesthetic activity, and learners have proven to process the materials they read more effectively when they do this. The English or Language Arts classroom is a great place for students to debate, create performances, act out stories, mime, do a gallery walk to explore the poetry and artwork of others, play Scrabble and even enjoy an afternoon of Shakespeare in the Park.

Kinesthetic Learning Stations

Learning in stations can be an effective strategy for classrooms of all subject areas. To do this, the teacher prepares stations of learning in various different locations around the classroom. Each station has the instructions and the required materials for the activity. Students complete the activity at one station and then get up and move to another station to complete the next activity.

Kinesthetic Activities for English or Other Languages:

  • Using gestures to represent key vocabulary words
  • Making puppets and presenting puppet shows
  • Designing graphics and creating artwork to represent story concepts
  • Playing charades

Kinesthetic Activities for Math:

  • Using manipulatives to explore concepts
  • Creating models using various materials
  • Working with mathematical tools, such as abacuses and protractors.
  • Tapping, snapping fingers, or clapping to show how numbers are related
  • Playing board games
  • Combining sports and math activities
  • Incorporating dance and music with math studies
  • Drumming out mathematical equations

Kinesthetic Activities for History:

  • Acting out dramatic performances of historic events
  • Gallery wall walks
  • Making models and dioramas of historic places
  • Visiting local historic sites and museums

Kinesthetic Activities for Science:

  • Hands-on science experiments
  • Gardening indoors or outdoors
  • Making botanical sketches
  • Creating and building machines and technical devices

While learning to focus in a quiet way is undoubtedly a useful skill, it's important to allow students to remain active during some lessons to optimize learning. Having these kinesthetic activities as part of the curriculum is essential for student success.

The Brain Balance Program incorporates physical movement with cognitive activities and sensory engagement. To learn more about the Brain Balance Program and our whole-child approach, contact us online or find a center near you

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