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Building brains with building blocks: The importance of kinesthetic play

Look, touch, skip, jump! Little kids need toys that are as active as they are. Discover the importance of hands-on learning and find ways to engage your preschoolers while they play.

mom doing puzzles with daughter

Make playtime into an educational experience. Learning can be fun — especially when you engage your children in activities that utilize all their senses.

Understanding multiple intelligences

The theory of multiple intelligences suggests that humans are born with eight intelligences — linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal and naturalistic. Most schools only address a few of these in the classroom, particularly linguistic and logical-mathematical. But research shows that children learn best when they are given learning opportunities that incorporate all the multiple intelligences.

What is kinesthetic learning?

Kinesthetic learning is one of the most important ingredients in healthy brain development. Using your body while you learn helps to enhance neural connections and build new pathways in the brain. Understanding kinesthetic learning is especially critical with children because most children are kinesthetic learners. This means that they learn best when they are using their bodies while they challenge their minds.

How to encourage hands-on play

There are a wide variety of activities that will encourage the use of kinesthetic intelligence. When in doubt, think big! Avoid activities that require seated attention and get those hands and feet moving.

Gardening, cooking, dancing, singing, acting, puppetry, performing science experiments, playing sports, doing puzzles, making arts and crafts and working with manipulatives are all excellent ways to engage the kinesthetic learner.

Looking for new ideas? One great resource is the Five in a Row series. This book takes classic children’s storybooks and provides fun interactive activities to go with each in the areas of math, science, social studies, language arts and more. You may use the lesson plans as they appear or simply use the model to come up with your own ideas.

Discover kinesthetic learning toys

Looking for the best toys to engage your active preschooler? Learning stores are the ideal place to find innovative, hands-on educational toys for the active learner. At this age, kids are very interested in seeing how things work by manipulating them with their own hands. Push-pull and ride-on toys, shape-sorters, puzzles, stacking toys, peg boards, construction sets, Lego blocks, lacing cards, sports equipment, art supplies and modeling clay are all great options for kinesthetic play.

Don’t just provide the toys and sit back to supervise. Take time to play with your child. This positive interaction will greatly benefit his growth and development. A child’s developmental trajectory is deeply influenced by loving and enthusiastic interaction with parents and caregivers. By actively engaging in play with your child, not only will you help him or her learn to solve problems, develop motor skills, stimulate intellectual growth and acquire the social skills needed to get along with others — but you will also access a window into your child’s world. In this way, you will have a special opportunity to see the world from your child’s perspective and better understand his unique needs as he or she grows and develops.

Quick Tip

Looking for some fun hands-on activities to do with your kids? Have a Lego building competition, put up a tent and “go camping” in your living room, do a science experiment in the bathtub or build a bird house in the backyard. Once you get started, the possibilities are endless.

More on learning fun

Lessons to teach while playing with blocks
Brain-boosting toys
Keeping learning fun for preschoolers

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