The Need to Move: Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence

Four girls jumping in the air outside

The perfect pirouette of a ballerina, the art of a sculpture, or the gravity defying layup of a basketball player. What do these three people have in common? They all possess bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.

Howard Gardner defines bodily-kinesthetic intelligence as a person’s ability to understand and move their bodies. People with bodily-kinesthetic intelligence learn by movement and using their hands. They have to physically be experiencing what they are learning.

Young children love to move! Their movement helps children to experiment with how their bodies move in the space around them. Young infants and toddlers are trying to master the movements of their large muscles when they crawl and walk. Preschoolers are experimenting with the use of smaller muscles for writing and drawing. The outdoor classroom is an outstanding place to provide experiences for children to develop their bodily-kinesthetic intelligence.


Enhancing Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence Outdoors

Go outside:

Children high in kinesthetic intelligence have a high need to move in order to learn and process. The best place for children to do this is in the outdoors. When children play outside, they are able to run, climb, and move their bodies in ways they are not able to inside. This connection to movement is very important for kinesthetic learners. Consider, for example, a child who may be struggling with letters. If we take them outside to make letters with their bodies, they are able to connect the concept physically. The preschool playground or an outdoor classroom are the perfect place for children to move their bodies.

Create an obstacle course:

Obstacle courses allow children to practice moving their bodies in different ways. The course can be tailored to challenge emerging motor skills as well as allow for creative ways to move through the obstacles on the playground. Incorporate obstacles such as a rock wall to climb on the playground equipment, running between cones, and stepping on boulders. Let the children design their own obstacle course and observe their creative problem-solving skills.

Provide loose parts to experiment with:

Loose parts are objects that can be changed, manipulated, and experimented with in multiple ways. Natural items such as rocks, sticks, pine cones, and seashells inspire the imagination of a child, with each creation bringing a wonderful and different outcome. These loose parts allow children to practice fine motor and hand-eye coordination as they manipulate the materials in new and interesting ways. If you have a chain link fence on your preschool playground, provide pieces of cloth to weave through the fence or clothes pins to clip on the fence. Plastic crates, cardboard pieces, and cups can provide an avenue for loose parts construction on the playground.

Create an outdoor theater:

Young children love to take on pretend roles. These pretend roles give the children a sense of control as well as an understanding of the concept being acted out. For children strong in kinesthetic intelligence, they are able to move their bodies on the stage, showing physically how they understand the role they have taken. Do you have an area in your outdoor classroom that can serve as a stage for children? Provide props such as scarves, hats, and other items to use during the play. Turn on music and allow the children to dance.

Incorporating movement in the outdoor classroom is a fun way to engage children and allow them to learn through play. The Adventurous Child’s Obstacle Course is a great way to get children moving! Click the link below to check it out:

large obstacle course

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We strive to create fun and informative content that will help young children learn and grow. However, it's important to keep in mind that all activities should be performed under the supervision of an adult. The Adventurous Child website is intended to serve as a reference and guidance for educational activities, and it is ultimately the responsibility of the parent, guardian, and/or educator to determine the appropriateness of the activity for their child’s age and maturity level. Thank you for your understanding and support!