VARK Learning Styles — The Kinesthetic Learner

This is Hands-On’s last blog in the series explaining the four broad types of VARK Learning Styles. Kinesthetic learners, as you may know, are hands-on learners who need to walk through a process themselves to understand its dynamics. Kinesthetic learners are rare in that researchers believe only 5% of students learn best from direct hands-on activities.

Kinesthetic learners are also sometimes referred to as tactile learners. However, there is a distinction between the two. The kinesthetic learner is not limited to learning by touch, but rather uses sensory information from all five senses to help better understand whatever it is they’re doing. Kinesthetic learners tend to pick up life skills faster than others, for example, cooking which allows for a scenario where all five senses are in use.

These students often prefer to do hands-on projects like taking things apart and reassembling them, playing with Legos, or doing a puzzle. Kinesthetic learners often have more trouble settling into a traditional classroom environment.


Teaching kinesthetic learners is easier when they are younger. One of the most efficient ways to help these children learn is by making learning into a game to get them actively engaged. Another method is to make concepts tangible which again, is easier earlier in a child’s development.

When teaching how to count, physically count out coins to help learners understand the value of money. Then tie the activity into addition and subtraction demonstrations. Have students take turns being a customer and a cashier, so they identify how to both give the right amount and if necessary make the appropriate change. This type of activity will keep the students engaged, help students with mental math skills and their speaking abilities.

Later on, projects are a great way of helping these learners. For example, in geometry have children make 3D shapes using construction paper or have them design their own game like Jeopardy, matching answers with questions, or even a board game. In advanced classes like Pre-calculus, a teacher could have students make models of Sine, Cosine, and Tangent curves. The more hands-on the activity, the easier it will be for these students to learn.


English tends to be the hardest subject for kinesthetic learners to tackle. Like many other types of learners, kinesthetic students will benefit from the use of flashcards. This value isn’t so much because of the way the information is being presented but the mindset that manifests from the situation. Flashcards make studying into a game that can be done independently or with another person. Kinesthetic students like working with others so finding a partner and studying is extremely effective to get these students engaged and on task.

Vocabulary can be difficult for these learners, but a great activity to do with a class is to pair them up or let them pair up, hand out a vocab sheet and have students make up sentences using words from the sheet. Teachers can instruct students to write down their example sentences and then have them go up to the board and write them out for everyone to see. This demonstration allows the kids to move around and interact with one another, creating positive stimulation.

A clever way of introducing and or reinforcing vocabulary is by putting sticky notes on objects around the classroom related to each word. For younger students, this could be as simple as doing a scavenger hunt where you give them a sheet of paper with pictures and ask them to find each object and then write down the word on the sticky note attached to the object. For more advanced students look at a list of ACT or SAT vocabulary words and put them on related objects. Another activity could be to hand out sticky notes and have each student pick a word then select an object to help them remember each word.


  • Placing a sticky note with the word noxious near a smoke/carbon monoxide detector
  • Putting a sticky note with the word resplendent near a light
  • Setting a sticky note with the word potable near a water fountain

What’s great about this strategy is that once the words are up, they can stay up until new vocabulary has been introduced or until all the students have taken their ACT’s and or SAT’s.


Science is often the strong suit of the kinesthetic learner. Science offers many opportunities for hands-on work. Much of science is learned through doing labs which require physically performing actions that yield the desired result.

When learning about molecules or DNA structure making models is a wonderful way to help these students retain knowledge. The most quintessential science fair project is the volcano. These learners tend to like to be in group activities because otherwise, they may become bored which will lead to them becoming distracted.


Kinesthetic learners can benefit from doing simple physical tasks while studying. Acts like tapping a pencil, squeezing a stress ball or chewing gum are an excellent way to keep their brains active through keeping their body active. Chewing gum has been found to be beneficial to all types of learners in a variety of tasks, especially audio-visual but its ability to aid concentration seems to be limited to just 20 minutes. A strategy could be to ask students only to use it when they start to feel their minds wandering.


  • Kinesthetic learners will make the most of their education when they can be actively involved in a learning activity. This link is a list of 62 project ideas to do with kids.
  • Hands-on Science activities dealing with building, cooking, nature, crafting, projectiles, and more!
    Six language development games for the kinesthetic learner
    Up and moving math games for kids.

Thanks for following our VARK Learning Styles Series. It’s been fun providing lots of useful information for you. We hope you find it very helpful as you inspire your child to love learning. Contact us if you have any questions about any of the learning styles — we have hands-on learning specialists ‘on-hand’ at all times.

Is your child a kinesthetic learner? Let us know below.

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