Movement is essential to our body and our well being.
Developmentally, infants and toddlers explore the world through
movement before language is developed. All of us need to learn
through movement but some people learn primarily through
movement. These people are considered to be predominantly
kinesthetic learners. Kinesthetic learners rely heavily on motor
memory and body to enhance their learning. Up until 3rd
grade students are heavily kinesthetic learners and are generally
eager and uninhibited about trying movement activities. For
adolescents, using a mask or a prop may make them less inhibited.
Below is a list of activities that stimulate kinesthetic learning
and may be useful to use in your classroom setting.
your students sit in a chair where they have room to reach forward
with their arms and legs without obstruction. Sit facing your
class, or sit in a circle with them. Begin a series of slow,
relaxed motions and ask the class to follow each motion. Flow
smoothly from one motion to another; include arms, legs, feet and
trunk. Include gentle stretches by reaching to touch the floor, or
as far as you can up in the air: straight, diagonally or sideways.
Include suggestions to breath deeply when reaching up, and exhale
deeply when reaching down. This relaxation exercise stimulates the
circulation, increases alertness, calms the mood in the room and
prepares students for learning. This activity can take 5 minutes
or less (one or two!).
your students form a circle. Have 4or 5 medium sized, different
colored foam balls ready, placed behind you in the circle. Begin
by explaining that a ball will be tossed to one student who will
catch it and then throw it to another student while saying the
person’s name. That student will throw to a 3rd
student etc. until everyone has caught and thrown the ball. The
last student will throw the ball back to you. Repeat the ball
toss, having the students throw to the same students in the same
order, again saying the name of the person to receive the tossed
ball (this time they need to remember the original order!). When
you get the ball back tell them they will repeat the ball toss,
same sequence but without saying the name of the recipient (who
will have to anticipate it is coming to them without a verbal
cue!). The next progression would be to add a second ball of a
different color after the 1st ball has been passed to 4
or 5 students. There will be 2 balls moving around the circle in
sequence at once. To
make it more challenging yet, add more balls as the students get
better at tracking the balls. You end the activity by putting the
balls away behind you when the ball reaches you at the end of a
sequence, one at a time.
is a specific activity set created by Paul E. Dennison. It is an
“action oriented educational program for whole brain
on this program may be accessed at http://www.thebrainstore.com
your students to stand shoulder to shoulder in alphabetical order
by first name without talking, and all facing the same direction.
They can sign to each other but not “place” each other by
leading someone to a spot. Tell them to do this as quickly as
Have students stand in a circle. Tell the students to use a part of
their body to write a letter (i.e.: an elbow or knee or foot).
the planes of space to your students (horizontal, vertical,
sagital). Have them write their names in the plane of their
choice. Repeat having them use a different plane.
each child tell a short “Pride” story about how they got their
name. This can be
done in partners, small groups, or as a whole class. If the
student does not own a story about his name, he can make one up.
At the end of sharing the story the student will give a gesture
that reflects his name. The group will come together in a circle
and demonstrate the gesture one at a time going around the circle.
Do this several times until the gestures flow into one another and
a progressive “dance” is created.
The students can initially say their names with the
gesture, and then it can be done silently.
your students find a partner. Provide your students with colored
crayons or Cray pas (each with one color). Tell them to draw their
name gesture (see above) on a large sheet of paper such as
butcher-block paper. They will do this with their partner who will
be drawing their own name gesture at the same time on the same
paper. They should fill up the space, and can repeat the gesture
drawing as much as they want.
After 2-3 minutes ask them to stop, and to look at their
product. Explain that they will work with their partner to create
a moving sculpture or dance that depicts their drawing.
Then divide the class in half, keeping the pairs together.
One half will be the audience while the other half performs their
movement sculpture--all at the same time (they will need to be
spread out!). The
audience half of the class will move in between the dancing
sculptures in the “gallery” that has been created, and walk
around to view from all angles the variety of performances. This
can be tiring for the performers so limit the viewing time. The 1st
and 2nd groups exchange performer/audience roles.
the children to stand up if they relate to an activity, then sit
back down. They remain sitting if they don’t relate to the named
Stand up if you like to ice skate.
students pair up and hold onto 1 end of an 18” piece of crepe
paper. Explain that they will move in relation to their partner by
following how the crepe paper moves, that they must share the lead
roll and they can’t change which hand they hold onto the crepe
paper with. Use music to start/stop the activity. Music like
“hoedown music” is suggested.
a group of about 6 students stand in a circle holding hands. Have
them make a “knot” by going under another person’s arms in
the circle. They may not switch hands or break the handhold. They
should continue making the knot until they can’t form any more
knots, and then they should reverse the process and unknot. No
talking allowed! It is fun to have music on during this activity.
of Human Knots
the same activity as above but require that the students must
always keep their feet in motion while they are doing the
activity. No talking allowed!
your students stand. Explain that you will count down from 10 to
0. They will time their bodies to let it
“melt” down to the floor in the allotted time. However
they want to end up on the floor is fine. Then count up to 10
while they come to standing. They should take the full time
allotted to achieve the final position. Then tell them they have 8
seconds to do the same thing, then 6 seconds, etc. until they have
2 seconds to get down and 2 seconds to get up.
the students work with a partner. One partner should “mold” the person into a statue
position representing a feeling. Switch roles. Join several
Statues together to form a sculpture.
a Tactile/Sensory Environment
your students to create with their hands (by miming) an imaginary
environment or home on all “levels of space” and in all 3 body
planes. Have them invite someone in, and have that person explore
the space also. Remember,
some music. Instruct the students to walk around and create shapes
with their bodies to the music. When the music stops, hold that
shape as a sculpture. Then
try it with the students walking and forming shapes during
silence, and holding the “sculpture” shape when the music
up students to learn the clapping part of this dance. Students
will clap their hands together in a palm up, palm down fashion
(i.e.: right hand held palm up in center of their body, left hand
claps it palm down where it is). After the clap the student slides
their hands apart maintaining the palm up, palm down position.
They will “flip” their hands over so the right hand becomes
palm down and the left becomes palm up. The counts are as follows:
(slide hands open)
(slide hands open)
(flip hands. over)
the students have learned the clapping sequence add moving feet
(by marking time). Start
with 2 kids working together, then form a group of four (small
circle), then combine the groups of 4 and keep adding groups until
everyone is in 1 large circle. When in the circle (either at 4 or
beyond) you can have the students move sideways as they mark time,
and add a “dip” as they flip their hand over and move
the kinesthetic quality of stretch:
3 activities with 3 types of equipment.
tubing (in a cloth cover) that forms a circle of about 5’
diameter when relaxed. Have the students hold the tubing with
their hands gripped on top of the tubing. Have them all take a
step backward; continue to step backward one step at a time until
tubing is stretched as far as it will go. Have various small
numbers of students around the circle move a step or two forward
while the rest maintain the stretch, this will form different
shapes. Have all students go back to the stretched circle.
Play a “name game” like: all the students wearing pink,
or if your name starts with G let go of the tubing. Have all the
students return to holding on. When it is at the maximum stretch
have all of the students release the tubing at the same time (on
the count of 3…) to see what will happen.
It will collapse back into itself; will not zap anyone.
This is an exercise for trust building!
diameter bungi cord, a loop of about 4’in length.
Have the students put the cord around their ankles
and spread their legs apart too play Chinese jump rope.
Form several small groups of 4-6 students. Ask them
to form shapes with the bungi cord…a triangle, a square, an
octagon. Have them work together to go from a 2 dimensional shape
to a 3 dimensional shape.
a Lycra tube from 7’ of 60” wide medium weight Lycra. The
circle (or tube) is made with 1 seam of 3 zigzags holding the cut
ends of the Lycra together. Have 8 people move to the inside of
the Lycra tube circle. Try these exercises with them: ask them to
lean as far back as they can into the Lycra. Then have them all
walk sideways to their right while leaning back in the Lycra. Then
have them “run” sideways while leaning back in the Lycra. Warning: this is a strong vestibular sensation, like riding
on a merry-go-round or a ride at a fair. If a child says he needs
out, pay attention! Too much stimulation of this sort makes some
people sick to the stomach, but most kids love it!
your students hold a piece of 4’ long, ½’’ doweling with
both hands. Play music, have the students dance by moving the
dowel in relation to their body
(body still, stick moves). Now have them move their body in
relation to the dowel (body moves, stick stays still).
Moor Sword Dance
will need 4’ long dowels that are 1/4-1/2 inch in diameter, one
for each student. You will tie 1 scarf about 2 inches from the end
of each dowel.
students form a circle, then turn to their right so they are
facing the back of a person ahead of them. They will start by
holding the dowel in their right hand at their right hip, with the
scarf dangling in front of them on the end of the dowel (they must
space themselves appropriately). They will walk forward and move
to a count of 8 beats as follows:
8 steps forward starting with right foot, dowel at right
8 steps with dowel over right shoulder, tilted down
toward the person behind-who
reaches up with their left hand to hold on for the last 4
4 counts switch dowel over head to left shoulder
4 counts move forward and diagonally in toward the
center of the circle and point stick in so all sticks meet (waist
8 counts switch dowel to left hand, move out and
forward again to full circle
6 counts tap stick on ground
place both hands on stick
bring stick back to start position (right hand, right hip).
Shout Hey! Start
to set firm rules about using the sick for it’s intended purpose
prior to handing them out!
needed is 3 or 4 Lycra bags of various colors (bags can be made
from 60” wide medium or lightweight lycra—so they are like a
1.Students create poses inside the bag to create a
2. Start with one student crating a lycra sculpture,
then add other lycra sculptures one at a time to the existing
sculpture, making sure each sculpture touches another in at least
one spot to create a large colorful sculpture.
-A -Person Sculpture
is a progression from the Lycra Bag Sculptures above.
with one student who begins with a movement, then poses. Students
add to the sculpture one at a time until there are 5-6
participants who are touching in some way to connect the
sculpture. Another set of 3-4 students will enter into the
“negative space” created by the 1st sculpture. A
second sculpture will be created by adding the 4 students 1 by 1
in the negative space, with these students connected to each other
by touching in at least 1 spot. The 1st person from the
1st sculpture will then remove themselves from the
sculpture and watch as 1 by 1 the students leave the sculpture in
the order that they entered. This is a positive then negative
your students that they will be making an interpretive sculpture
of a theme, and that you do not want a literal pose, but an
interpretive pose. The
1st person who starts a sculpture names an abstract
topic or theme (like freedom). Have the 1st student
form an abstract pose
to show their interpretation of the theme or topic ( if they are
having difficulty with the concept of “abstract pose” you
could give the example of: if freedom were the theme then of
posing like the statue of liberty would be a literal, not
abstract pose). When one student has posed for 30 seconds (or
whatever time is appropriate) the student will sit down and
another will give their interpretation in sculpture form.
Remember—the form has meaning not your facial expression!
variation on the above Interpretive Sculpture is that no theme is
named out loud. One person forms a sculpture and then others
follow based on what they interpreted the theme to be. Then the
group (class) says what they thought the theme was, and the 1st
person tells what her/his idea actually was.
This is a diversity and group cooperation exercise and
there is no right or wrong. It demonstrates diversity in
Pass the Rock Game
is a traditional movement game and song from the Akan people of
Ghana. You can learn more about it from Let Your Voice Be
Heard: songs from Ghana and Zimbabwe by Abraham Kobena
Adzinyah et. al. The
children sit in a circle and pass a stone counterclockwise in a
particular rhythmic pattern along the ground. It is a game of
precision and accuracy in rhythm and motion. Start by having your
students sit in a circle close enough to place their hand in front
of their neighbor. Each student is given a stone. You should
remind them to look carefully at their stone so they can identify
it later. Have the
students practice the motions and rhythm without a rock initially.
They will say and do these motions:
tap, tap, and pass: tap, tap, and pass: tap, tap, and pass.
OR an easier one initially is: grab, pass, grab, pass, grab, pass
OR: grab, tap, pass;
grab tap, pass. When
the rock is passed it should be place as far as possible in front
of the neighbor it is passed to, and in the same place each time.
The words to the song are: O-boo asi me nsa na-na
O-boo asi me nsa
Oboo asi me nsa na-na
Oboo asi me nsa. It sounds like: Oh- bwah see mee sah nah-nah.
The group can practice by passing only 1 rock
but every one does the rhythm motions until the rock comes
to them, and then they pass the rock. When the students are
comfortable with that then each will start with a rock and begin
passing at the same time, so that everyone taps and passes (or
grabs and passes) a rock at the same time. The game stops when the
student gets his own rock back, or in the case of passing one
rock, when it returns to the leader.
These activities were adapted from Joi Gresham.