Kinesthetic Learning Strategies

in Special Needs

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My youngest boy is VERY physical. If he doesn’t get enough heavy work and deep pressure activities in a day, he seeks them out in all of his school work. So, the more ways I can find to incorporate physical force into his learning, the happier he is with the schoolwork.


Additionally,¬†heavy work and deep pressure activities are bottom-up up solutions for concentration.¬† These activities calm the system and help reorder the senses. It’s not just about burning energy. The propioceptive and vestibular systems (joint and inner-ear senses) do not get enough activity in our culture so a child starts to instinctivly seek motion if he’s not getting enough. Assigning something along these lines for 10 minutes or more (it’s like hunger, the child can tell you when he’s done enough) to buy yourself some effortless full-attention concentration time from a wiggly kid.



Content Oriented

  • Sidewalk Smash or Dash: I draw letters or numbers on the driveway in chalk and call out names. He “smashes” the correct answers with a big ole’ river rock until the rock is dust or he’s sick of it.
  • Pillow Crash: I call out questions and he answers as he runs full force into the couch or leaps off the stairs onto a pallet or falls backwards on the bed.
  • Tamborine or Wrestling Recitation: We do review of his poetry or counting in rhythm while I smack him all over with a tamborine or jar his arms and legs, throwing them around roughly.
  • Water bottle toss: My oldest loves this. When we’re reviewing something, we play “catch with a half full water bottle.
  • Crashing Rewards: When Little Kid is finished placing all the magnets on his numbers, he holds the pan over his head and I beat on it to make the magnets fall on him. He loves it. That or I tell him, “After you finish your reading, I’ll swing you upside down for a minute.”



Content-Free Brain Breaks

  • Rock walk: We have lots of river rocks and bricks in our yard. I send him out to make a path from them (propioceptive: heavy work) and then to walk or hop them back and forth (vestibular: balance)
  • Hammering: Teach the child to set nails in a stump with a clothespin and let them hammer their brains out.
  • Trampoline or Punching Bag: If you don’t want to do this with content, just sending them out to beat the tar out of the bag or jump their legs off for a while makes a great brain break.


In addition to whatever, spontaneous nonsense I employ during of after learning, I also keep fidgets around for them to fool with while they’re working on other subjects. Kinesthetic learners incorporate information faster if they can move their hands. So, I don’t make them look at me or stop fiddling during work. I just ask questions periodically to make sure they’re actually paying attention (in their own way).

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