How to Teach Math Skills to Kinesthetic Learners

Kinesthetic children are more aware of the world around them than other children. They tend to learn better when they involve their total body in the learning. Large hand movements and body movements help them communicate; exercising helps them work out problems and think more clearly. When a student needs to learn new math concepts, it is more difficult for a kinesthetic child to sit in their seat and work them out. There are ways a teacher can implement lessons that help their kinesthetic students grasp new concepts in math. Its all in the movement!

Skip counting: Skip counting by following a moving marker across the numbers may help the visual learner understand and remember the concept, but it won’t be as effective for the child who can’t sit still. Write the numbers, such as 2, 4, 6, 8, on individual pieces of construction paper. Tape the papers to the floor a few inches apart. Have the students hop down the row of numbers, calling out each number as they land on them. While your kinesthetic students make connections, other learner types will enjoy the activity too. Skip counting can also be done while the children are skipping rope, calling out the numbers as they jump.

Geometry: Write the names of geometric shapes, such as squares, triangles or trapezoids, on index cards. Shuffle the pile of cards. Pick one and call out the shape. Students need to group together and build the shape with their bodies. For less confusion, you can put them in groups of four until you get to shapes like pentagon.

More geometry can be taught with individual bodies. Teach your students about the three angles: acute, obtuse and right. Have them demonstrate the angle with the use of their arm as they bend it at the elbow. 

Grids: Make a giant 10 by 10 grid using masking tape, index cards and markers. Write numbers and alphabet letters on the index cards and tape them along the bottom and left edge of the grid; alphabet cards should be on one row and number cards on the other. On another set of index cards, write out coordinate pairs. Give each child a card and ask them to stand on the appropriate spot on the giant grid. 

Board work: Kinesthetic children love getting out of their own seats. Use board work to get them moving. Check out George Woodbury’s ‘Pass the Pen’ game for an idea to involve all of your students. 

When your kinesthetic students are struggling with new math concepts, find a way to get them moving. Before long, they will understand the ideas and be ready to set down and work them out on paper.