16 Characteristics of Kinesthetic and Tactile Learners Child1st Publications
Feb 02, 2022

16 Characteristics of Kinesthetic and Tactile Learners

What does it mean if my child is a kinesthetic or tactile learner? A child can be their own best helper once they understand their "problems" aren't evidence of a disability but rather evidence of an unique gift.

Sarah Major

Sarah Major, M.Ed. is passionate about working in harmony with a child's immaculate design to support their learning strengths.  As a Title 1 Program Director and Designer, Sarah earned awards for creating her own multisensory educational resources that have now been sold in all 50 states and over 150 countries.  By design, Sarah's materials incorporate stimulating visuals with related body movements, providing a solid foundation for all students, including kinesthetic and tactile learners.

Insights, tips, and techniques to help kinesthetic learners at school and at home


Adult learners are often better equipped to understand and accommodate how they take in, understand, and retain new information than children who are in the process of “learning to learn” and do not have the self-awareness or experience to evaluate how they learn best. Too often, instructors treat all learners the same way, putting them in colorful rooms full of visual stimuli and packed with friends and then asking them to be quiet, stop moving, concentrate, pay attention, and listen.

These traditional classroom environments can be the biggest learning obstacle for kinesthetic learners (who require movement to learn) or tactile learners (who require hands-on learning). Very often, the children who don’t succeed in these classrooms are labeled ADD or ADHD. While those diagnoses may bear out in some situations, at other times, there is just a mismatch between a child’s kinesthetic and tactile learning style and the typical classroom setting.

Children, like their adult counterparts, are not all the same in how they learn. The more we understand our students’ learning strengths, the better we can accommodate those needs. Use these tips to accommodate your kinesthetic and tactile learner’s strengths. Then, watch your learner soar!

SnapWords® have helped thousands of kinesthetic readers thrive!

SnapWords are sight words for visual and kinesthetic learners

Kinesthetic and tactile learners have similar learning styles

1. Kinesthetic learners need to move. 

They wiggle, tap, swing their legs, bounce, and often just can’t seem to sit still. They learn through their bodies and their sense of touch.

In some settings, this need to move is seen as a problem or something to be corrected. A better approach is to harness movement as a learning tool. Count foot stomps. Hang our sound spelling teaching cards on a string a few inches apart, shout each sound, and clap as you say each related word on the list as you move along the string.

2. Kinesthetic learners have excellent “physical” memory.

They learn quickly and permanently what they do as they are learning. SnapWords® are sight words taught using body motions. Have your learner act out the words on each card, securing that word in their vocabulary by giving them the opportunity to develop a physical memory of it.

3. Kinesthetic learners are often gifted in physical activities

Activities like running, swimming, dancing, and other sports are typically easy for them. Pairing something that comes easy and is fun for kinesthetic learners can make learning more enjoyable and productive. They experience success in one activity as they develop strengths in another and will likely be more receptive to taking on challenges when they know they will not leave the situation feeling defeated. Can they count how many steps they take when running from one point to another? Can they find the sum of the number of steps to get from point A to point B and then point B and point C? Can they find the difference? Reinforce their math-fact skills with our Domino Cards.

4. Kinesthetic learners are typically very coordinated and have an excellent sense of their body in space and of body timing.

They have great hand-eye coordination and quick reactions. Our colorful domino cards provide a great opportunity for these quick-eyed students to point to the card representing the number you call out in a flash!

5. Tactile learners learn through fine motor movements rather than whole body movement.

While tactile learners still learn best by moving or touching objects or manipulatives, they are more moderate than kinesthetic learners who require whole-body movement. A tactile learner may learn better by tracing the letters on a sound card or the numbers on a math card as they practice that sound or understand that number. They may benefit from tapping each colorful dot on a domino card while they count or prepare to add or subtract.

6. Tactile learners learn primarily through the sense of touch.

The most tedious of subjects (spelling and phonics) can become an enjoyable, visual, and tactile activity when you use resources designed especially for tactile and kinesthetic learners. Learners can construct sentences by arranging SnapWord cards in our pocket chart, or other products that welcome the tapping, touching, and tracing tactile learners need.  Experience the difference!

7. Tactile learners learn best through hands-on activities.

Incorporating related motions into teaching is another way to strengthen tactile learners’ skills. Explore our Alphabet Teaching Products to see how hand gestures can play out in learning letters.

8. Tactile learners express their learning best with projects.

Projects appeal to tactile learners. They learn better when creating mini-books, games, skits, or models or when using building blocks, art materials, and hands-on math.



Is your child a kinesthetic learner?

Find out by using our kinesthetic checklist!

Find products especially designed for your tactile and kinesthetic learners




9. “Sitting still” is not always easy for kinesthetic and tactile learners.

Classrooms with neat rows of desks and hours of quiet, stationary work sessions do not work for kinesthetic and tactile learners (or for many other learners, realistically speaking). But of course, some students do need quiet and calm to thrive. There are ways to accommodate both groups.

At school: Let your kinesthetic learners move! Tell them they can stand up, swing their legs, or even pace the floor as long as they do not disrupt other students, and you will likely see their performance will improve. Integrate movement and learning by playing Pop-Up.

At home: Practice movement at home to find out what works best for your learner. Some children learn new material better if they are able to pace the floor while reading. Others may need to swing their legs or manipulate an object while reading with you. Try this hopscotch activity to incorporate movement!


10. Kinesthetic and tactile learners often lose interest quickly.

Learners of all styles lose interest, even in topics they enjoy, if they are not engaged, so developing strategies to accommodate kinesthetic and tactile learners can help an entire classroom of learners.

At school: Use novelty and change where you teach a lesson in order to help break up long periods of time when the students would be sitting at their desks. Consider changing location, letting children sit on the floor, and encouraging them to synthesize their learning by sketching or using another creative method to respond to what they learned. Keep intensive teaching moments short.

At home: If your child is working on homework, segment homework time into short spans with breaks in between. For example, do math homework, then take a break to run around the yard, do somersaults on the floor, or some other physical activity of the child's choosing. Then do more homework.


11. Learning steps and procedures can be difficult for kinesthetic and tactile learners.

As gifted movers, kinesthetic and tactile know how to catch a ball but probably haven't thought about the steps involved in making the catch–they just do it! There are ways to help them understand that some tasks require planning steps and following procedures.

At school: Teach students to visualize what they are learning. If you are teaching them steps for solving a problem, have them go inside their imaginations to "see" themselves following the steps. TIP: Kinesthetic learners are also visual learners. They need to be very clear on the outcome before making sense of the steps. Be accepting if the child comes up with different steps that work better for them. After all, the desired outcome is what matters and kinesthetic/tactile learners excel once they are clear on what is expected of them.

At home: Share with your child the goal or what the desired final "product" is. Next, share the suggested steps and have the child imagine doing them. Ask your child if they believe the steps will produce the desired outcome. Listen and adjust as needed. Try this activity to encourage your child to practice planning steps and following procedures.


12. Kinesthetic and tactile learners can be easily distracted by their environment.

Environmental distractions can make it difficult for all learners to maintain focus, but especially for kinesthetic and tactile learners. However, an attention-keeping solution is literally within reach as the attention of this type of learner follows their hands.

At school: Teach them to draw sketches or diagrams of what they hear in a lesson. Have them point to each problem as they work through it. Encourage these learners to seek out “working spots” with minimal distraction. TIP: Remember, kinesthetic and tactile children are often visual learners, so have them use flashcards with strong visual cues to reinforce information. This practice will help strengthen their visual learning style, making them more “diversified” learners.

At home: Create a cozy, private environment for your child to use as they do schoolwork. A strategy that works very well is creating a "study spot" structured to limit what the child can see within the location. TIP: Cut out the bottom and one side of a large cardboard box to make a “learning clubhouse.”


13. Kinesthetic and tactile learners can become overwhelmed.

Too much information or too much time on task can lead to burnout. Teach learners strategies to prevent or recover from overload and burnout.

At school: Teach them to use deep breathing and relaxation techniques to help with focus. Break up their tasks into manageable segments.

At home: Work together with your child to determine the length of work and rest sessions. Let the child set the timer. Before starting a work session, help our learner organize their assignments into individual tasks, putting them in order of priority so the child can focus on one task at a time.


14. Kinesthetic and tactile learners are not typically auditory learners.

These learners are better able to focus on learning and retain information when they learn through body movement.

At school: Incorporate movements and visuals into lessons. For example, when teaching a sight word like "help,” demonstrate the body movement that mimics the shape and meaning of the word.

At home: These learners learn by doing–not from repeated instruction. Help them store words or facts by creating fun, repetitive movements or using visual signals. TIP: Integrating whiteboards with lists or images is an easy way to incorporate visual cues. And, you can have the child create those lists or images too, making the most of their ability to learn by doing, moving, and touching.


15. Kinesthetic and tactile learners benefit from using manipulatives.

Focusing is easier for these (and most) students when learning is a multisensory experience and involves objects to manipulate instead of just pencil and paper activities.

At school: Use sight word cards to build sentences or letter cards to build words. When students are solving math problems, encourage them to draw the problem or build the problem using manipulatives.

At home: Use building blocks or legos to help your learner visualize math problems. Practice sight words with a game rather than pencil and paper. Be creative with your manipulatives–engage your learner in helping change up the options by finding options from different items in your home.


16. Kinesthetic and tactile learners' attention tends to wander.

Keeping learning experiences “fresh” is an important element of maintaining the focus of kinesthetic and tactile learners.

At school: Keep their attention by combining visuals and related movement into your lessons. Switch up where you teach and how you deliver the content. 

At home: Let your child change up their homework locations if variety helps them. Help your child see their learning style as a gift–not a problem. By recognizing they learn best through movement, touch, and visuals, kinesthetic and tactile learners can lean into those abilities as learning superpowers. Children can be their own best helpers once they understand their "problems" aren't evidence of a disability but of a unique gift.



Since its inception in 2006, Child1st has emerged as the leader in providing resources that parents and teachers alike can pick up and use. By their very design, Child1st resources meet the needs of children without the teacher-adult having to receive special training.  We exist so that every child has the opportunity to learn in their own learning language.  Child1st




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