Get Your Pupils Moving While Learning

Use these teaching strategies to get the wiggles out and keep the learning in!

By Christen Amico


kids jumping

A kinesthetic approach to teaching can be challenging, yet highly effective. Young, active children often struggle with typical daily tasks that require sitting still for extended periods of time. It is important for children to have ample opportunity to maximize potential by utilizing a variety of learning modalities. Here are some simple games and activities that can be integrated into your daily routine to help engage children in a fun, active, and educational way.

Four Corners

This is a great game that can be modified in many ways. To play, four kids each go to the corners of the room with a card. It can be a number card, vocabulary card, or a sight-word card. The teacher stands in the middle of the room giving clues to the children, who then walk to the corner of the room with that answer. For example, the teacher would say, “Go to the number that has a four in the ones place,” or,“Go to the word that rhymes with walk.” Children are then able to practice specific skills while simultaneously walking around the room. The cards and children standing in the corners can be switched out as necessary.

Chalk Math

Throw away those worksheets with endless math problems, and pick up some good, old sidewalk chalk. Students can simply write the answers to basic math facts on the ground, or they can write word problems about the outdoors and allow others to solve them. You can also create a life-size bar graph and literally have the kids stand in the graph to represent their vote. Another idea is to create a large number line on the sidewalk, and have kids practice skip counting by jumping over certain numbers. They can also jump forward or backward to practice solving addition and subtraction problems. 

Find Your Family

This game works best with larger groups of children, but can be modified for any size class or group. Make family cards with fact families (examples: 4+2=6, 2+4=6, 6-2=4, 6-4=2) or word families (walk, talk, chalk, stalk). Divide the family cards randomly amongst the children. When the teacher says “Go” everyone must get up and silently find his family members. The first family to correctly find all of its members, wins!

Who Am I?

This game begins by taping a word or number card to the back of each child. The children then go around the room asking yes or no questions to each other as they try to figure out the word or number on their own back. This game can be easily modified or differentiated to meet the needs of all learners. Emergent readers or English language learners can be given vocabulary words at their reading level, while more advanced pupils can work on more challenging, complex words.

Story Scavenger Hunt

Photocopy a story and cut it up in pieces. Depending on reading level, the story can be a few sentences or a few paragraphs. Hide each section around the classroom. At the bottom of each page, give a clue to the location of the next section of the story. Young readers must solve each clue before they are able to read what happens next in the story! This works particularly well with mysteries or high-interest stories. It also provides a great opportunity to have kids work in small groups to solve the clues. If you homeschool, or simply want to work with your own child on some of these skills, this game is easily adapted. Simply hide the clues in your house or yard.  The more often children can involve their bodies while learning, the more apt they are to retain new knowledge. Try to incorporate kinesthetic activities as often as possible to enhance each child’s learning experiences.

Here are a few more lesson ideas that utilize movement and learning:

Opposite Games 

Kindergarten teachers can use this resource to teach opposites by integrating bodily movements and music. The plan is very thorough and includes options for integrating literature and assessments.

Cut up Geometry

Older mathematicians can cut up foam pieces to create their own geometric shapes to use for math problems. The two-dimensional foam shapes can also be glued together to form three-dimenstional figures. This is an exploratory lesson that can be modified for younger grades.

Spring into Learning

Check out these hands-on learning activities that teach spring topics, like plants and bugs, or using kinesthetic strategies. These ideas are colorful and easy to follow.